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Cardinals news and notes: Rays, the minors, and Pride Night reflections

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at St. Louis Cardinals Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

On Friday night, I attended the first Pride Night at Busch Stadium. Kudos to my sister Katie for purchasing the tickets.

It was an exciting event to attend, despite the interminable dullness of the nearly four hour game itself. A few months ago, I wrote (before the event was announced, though I assume that the event was in the works for a while) that the Cardinals should host a Pride Night, and it became perhaps the article on this website with which I’ve become most associated.

I was proud of the article and glad that I could step outside of my comfort zone of writing about on-field baseball results, and I was flattered by those who complimented the article (while there was some backlash, the reception that I encountered was overwhelmingly positive), but part of me felt strange receiving attention for it. I’m a straight white male who doesn’t face a lot of discrimination throughout his life, and while I support LGBT causes from the outside, I’m not what one could consider an active participant in the gay rights movement.

But I went on Friday, partially because it’s a baseball game and going to baseball games is fun (even when the game turns out to be boring) but also to see what the experience was like.

I had attended the game on Wednesday, also a theme night, and I saw maybe four or five people wearing the Beatles shirts which were given away. The Pride Night hats, however, were donned by seemingly half of the crowd. Admittedly, I sat in the cheap seats, which I would guess had disproportionate representation of Pride Night tickets sold, but I feel rather confident in assessing that this was among the more popular theme night giveaways I’ve ever seen the Cardinals have.

As is typically the case, the game experience was mostly like any other game. The kiss cam showed a mix of people which included some same-sex couples (the kiss cam has been roundly criticized for using the notion of a same-sex couple as a joke), but rather than jeers or laughs, the couples were loudly applauded—if there were boos, they were drowned out by an overwhelmingly positive reception. But other than that, things went about as they normally do—this was, after all, a baseball game. Why wouldn’t it be?

More than anything else, the event was a celebration of people. A row ahead of me sat an older man who, in addition to the theme hat, wore a shirt which read “I love my gay daughter”. Fans brought (non-sight obstructing) signs of support. At one point, on the scoreboard, a baby was shown holding a small sign saying that he was excited about attending a game with his moms. That one got me.

It was around this point that I recognized just how much this event meant to people that weren’t me. Baseball (the Cardinals are certainly not innocent, but are also certainly not alone) has had a tendency to marginalize those who it feels can be easily disregarded—the prospect of a gay player has long been considered a “distraction” while the thousands of heterosexual men are not considered distractions for having wives or children. But people were openly and loudly able to celebrate their identities in an environment where they may not have always felt comfortable doing so.

Nothing that happened on Friday rectifies past, present, or future misdeeds of the Cardinals, but it was the right thing to do, and I’m glad I was there to experience it. I hope they do it again next year.

Anyway, I’ll get back to baseball. That’s the thing which united the 40,000 or so fans at Busch Stadium on Friday, after all.