Yay! It’s the day of the summer solstice here in Wisconsin, a day to appreciate the abundant amounts of sunshine that make summer, well, summer. If you see any sunshine where you are, would you mind sending some our way? That’s because the weather forecast here in Wisconsin calls for rain all day. And we’ve had more than enough rain the past week or so.
At least the home of my beloved Milwaukee Brewers has a convertible roof to keep out the rain when necessary. And tonight they’ll need it closed, for tonight the Brewers will host their very first “Pride Night” at Miller Park. Themed nights and sports teams go together like hand in well-worn baseball glove, and we’re not just talking “2 brats for $1 nights” either. There have been everything from ethnic heritage nights to weird jersey nights to “retro nights” to movie nights. Of the latter, Star Wars nights have been a big draw the past few years, especially in the minor leagues with their jerseys patterned after, say, Stormtroopers or Jedi masters.
Nights with more grounded themes have also been featured, including “Pride Nights” to celebrate the LGBT community. Major League Baseball has seen an increase in Pride Nights in recent years, though some of its clubs have been laggards in paying official acknowledgement to our community. Heck, whole leagues such as the NBA and WNBA have lapped MLB in paying respect to the LGBT community.
Thankfully, however, MLB has been on the ball (so to speak) in acknowledging and embracing the LGBT community in recent years. And tonight (June 21), the Brewers will become the 23rd MLB team (out of 30) to officially stage a LGBT-oriented event during the 2018 regular season. To borrow a quote from the Brewers’ website, this is a night aimed at “celebrating diversity and inclusion within the Brewers fan base, the Milwaukee community, and all of Major League Baseball.” The events are slated to include a tailgate outside Miller Park held by the Milwaukee Gay Sports Network; the rainbow-themed shirt you see to your right; and, for those who purchased a special ticket package, the opportunity to participate in a pregame parade on the Miller Park warning track. (Yes, the chance to actually go on the field!)
How this Brewers’ Pride Night came about is a sweet story in itself. A year ago, a Milwaukee resident and Brewers fan by the name of Hilary McCabe sent a note to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnist Jim Stingl lamenting the fact that the Brewers have never held some sort of in-game promotion to connect with the LGBT community. Stingl forwarded that note to the Brewers’ vice-president of communications. A few days after that, the Brewers formally joined the Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce. And earlier this year, when the Brewers released their roster of theme nights for the 2018 season, a Pride Night was included for the very first time… and appropriately enough during the traditional LGBT pride month of June.
As a Brewers fan and a part of the broad LGBT community, I’m so happy to see that the Brewers are embracing and officially acknowledging the LGBT portion of their fan base and our community as a whole. It’s a great move, and part of a continuing move that began back in 2001 when the Chicago Cubs held their first “Out at Wrigley” event. (Kudos to the Cubs for actually staging two LGBT pride events here in 2018, one earlier this month and the annual Out at Wrigley event coming up in August.) There are now only two Major League Baseball teams who have never held an official pride night during their histories, the Yankees and the Angels. Here’s hoping those two teams will finally get get on the ball (so to speak) and stage their own pride nights in 2019.
Oh, one must-read link to share with you: If you think a pro sports team holding a night to embrace the LGBT community seems like small potatoes to you, think again. Luke Schaetzel of the website SconnieSportsTalk.com (“An official student organization of the University of Wisconsin-Madison”) wrote a great opinion piece about the Brewers staging this event. Luke ponders that somewhere out there, some young Brewers fan who’s struggling with their sexual and/or gender identity and feels alone and shut out will tune in to the game tonight and see the rainbow shirts and related paraphanelia. And then, he writes, “That fan, that kid, is going to feel a hell of a lot better knowing their favorite baseball team supports who they are.” Indeed, this relatively small move on the Brewers’ part will make a whole lot of difference in the long run. Please read Luke Schaetzel’s opinion piece at this link.