Rays don custom uniforms to honor Pride Night

June 4th, 2022

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays celebrated Pride Night at Tropicana Field on Saturday, an annual event with a new feature this year: Nearly every Tampa Bay player who took the field against the White Sox in the first inning did so with a rainbow-colored sunburst logo patch on his right arm and a rainbow-colored “TB” logo on his cap.

For the first time, the Rays gave their players the option to recognize Pride Night on their uniforms, and most players opted in on the opportunity to do so. Before the game, a number of Rays players, coaches and staff wore T-shirts displaying the words “Baseball is for EVERYONE,” with the final word written in the colors of the rainbow.

All of it, from the caps and patches to the shirts and other festivities, was meant to promote a message of inclusivity at the outset of LGBTQ Pride Month.

“It just shows that we want everyone to feel welcomed and included when you come to Tropicana Field and people are cheering us on,” said veteran center fielder Kevin Kiermaier, who wore the specially designed cap and uniform patch for Saturday’s game. “My parents taught me to love everyone as they are. Go live your life. Whatever your preferences are, go be you. … We just want everyone to feel welcomed and included and cheer us on.”

As part of the celebration, the Rays gave away miniature Pride Flags to fans before the game, which could be seen waving in the seats among Saturday’s announced crowd of 19,452, and those who purchased lower-level tickets as part of a $30 package for Saturday’s game received a special Rays Pride hat designed by local artist Chad Mize.

The Rays also presented Metro Inclusive Health, a nonprofit organization that provides health and wellness services that are inclusive, relevant and supportive of the diverse people in the local community, with a $20,000 check. And Major Markus Hughes, who has spent 22 years with the St. Petersburg Police Department and served as the department’s LGBTQ+ liaison since 2014, threw out the ceremonial first pitch to Rays reliever Matt Wisler.

“It's an important night for our organization and an opportunity for us to emphasize inclusivity overall,” team president Matt Silverman said. “We lived as a community through the Pulse nightclub shooting [in 2016] and understand the importance of nights like this to signal to our fans and our community the open invitation to come enjoy baseball, and I know our overall message is of inclusivity.”

The Rays allowed their players to choose individually whether they wanted to wear the Pride Night caps and sleeve patches. The Dodgers wore similar custom caps for the first time in franchise history on Friday night, and both the Giants and Dodgers will sport their Pride caps when they play in San Francisco on June 11.

Most Rays players opted in on the club’s offer, while the rest wore their standard game uniforms and caps for Saturday's game. Reliever Jason Adam, who said he and some teammates made a personal decision not to wear the Pride Night apparel, echoed the Rays' overall message, saying, "We want to make sure that everybody in the LGBTQ community feels safe and welcome here."

“Impressed that our players have had those conversations, and we want to support our players that choose to wear or choose not to wear to the best of our capabilities,” Rays manager Kevin Cash added.