Bass, Atkins address anti-LGBTQ2S+ video shared by reliever

June 8th, 2023

TORONTO -- met with the media in a group setting Thursday for the first time since sharing an anti-LGBTQ2S+ video on Instagram May 29.

This comes after Bass met with Pride Toronto executive director Sherwin Modeste, who he believes better informed him about Toronto’s LGBTQ2S+ community. Speaking with the media, Bass clarified exactly what he’d apologized for over one week ago when he issued a statement and addressed which behaviors would change moving forward.

“What I’ve learned through this process, especially representing an organization in the Toronto Blue Jays and a community, is that my focus from the get-go should have been doing my job and being accepting of everyone’s decisions and views in life,” Bass said. “Through this process, I’ve learned that. Moving forward, I will definitely know better than to post my personal beliefs on my social media platforms.”

The post, which called for the boycotting of brands such as Target and Bud Light due to their support of the LGBTQ2S+ community, referred to that support as “evil” and “demonic” while calling on people to “take no part” in the targeted businesses. 

Bass shared this post to his Instagram stories, deleted it briefly, then shared it once again before ultimately deleting it permanently. 

“I just felt like it was too much of a distraction. But I stand by my personal beliefs,” Bass said, “and everyone is entitled to their personal beliefs, right? Also, I mean no harm towards any groups of people. I felt like taking that down a second time was the right thing to do and not be a distraction to this team. Our job is to win baseball games and that’s my focus.”

General manager Ross Atkins met with the media just prior to Bass and addressed how the team has handled this situation internally. Early last week, Bass came in on a Tuesday game day after the Blue Jays were off on Monday. He met with both Atkins and manager John Schneider to apologize before apologizing to his teammates.

Atkins also offered some insight as to what, exactly, Bass apologized to his manager and general manager for. 

“For creating any harm and for hurting others,” Atkins said. “That was not his intent. His emotion was very strong, as was mine. I was personally hurt, myself. He felt my disappointment and anger. It was a very charged exchange.”

After learning of the post, Atkins says that he immediately reached out to Major League Baseball for guidance and spoke with Billy Bean, MLB’s senior vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion. Bean also acts as a special assistant to Commissioner Rob Manfred.

“We will continue to work hard to make sure that this is an inclusive environment and one where we will not stand for behavior that makes it otherwise,” Atkins said. “Obviously, things happen that we have to react to, like the case of Anthony Bass. We will react and we will respond. We feel like with his apology and being accountable and taking the steps to become more aware, that we’re one step closer to a more inclusive environment.”

Atkins shared that the Blue Jays and MLB will continue to offer resources to Bass so that this process can continue beyond his conversation with Modeste.

As Bass addressed the reaction to his actions Thursday, standing firmly by the message shared in the video while simultaneously saying that he wishes no harm or hatred towards any group of people, he said that he understands the negative reaction he has received from Blue Jays fans.

“I totally get that,” Bass said. “I just want them to know that I’m working hard on myself. There’s a lot of self-reflection and working, obviously, with Sherwin to help understand the Pride community and what they’re going through. I think it’s really helped me grow through this process and is something I’ll continue to work on.”

The Blue Jays’ Pride Weekend begins Friday against the Minnesota Twins with events planned across three days. On Friday, the first 15,000 fans through the gates will receive a giveaway of a Blue Jays rainbow flag jersey. 

The first pitch will be thrown out by leZlie Lee Kam, who has spent over 45 years working with senior and youth issues in the LGBTQ2S+ community. The Blue Jays plan to have Bass behind the plate to catch that ceremonial first pitch.