Anthem highlights Out at the Park event

Padres celebrate LGBT inclusion at Petco Park Friday

April 22nd, 2017
Padres staff, the San Diego Gay Men's Chorus, the San Diego Women's Chorus and San Diego Pride performed the national anthem before Friday's game. (Padres)

SAN DIEGO -- The Padres capped their biggest Out at the Park night ever with one of the biggest national anthems to grace Petco Park.

The San Diego Gay Men's Chorus, the San Diego Women's Chorus and San Diego Pride partnered with several Padres executives to perform the anthem before Friday's game against the Marlins. In total, more than 200 people took part in the singing, including former Padre Billy Bean, now Major League Baseball's vice president for social responsibility and inclusion.

The event doubled last year's turnout and was the largest Out at the Park night ever hosted by the Padres.

"Being welcomed into the Padres' space ... is just so inviting," said Fernando Lopez, the director of operations for San Diego Pride. "We really feel that this is our city, our team, and we couldn't feel more welcome in this space."

Friday's anthem comes on the heels of last year's technical error during Pride Night, which resulted in a recording of a woman singing to play over the Gay Men's Chorus. At the time, the chorus called for an investigation into the origins of the mishap, and Major League Baseball investigated the incident. Its findings revealed that the situation was merely, "a product of human error."

In the time since, the Padres have worked closely with the LGBT community and have been lauded for their continued dialogue.

"They forgave what happened last year and are looking forward, and that's what we're doing, too," said Padres senior vice president of community affairs Tom Seidler, who was among a handful of Padres executives who sang in solidarity with the aforementioned groups.

"It's been a fun year, a learning year, and I think it's going to continue to grow. ... It's been an opportunity for us to step back and build a better relationship with SD Pride and other friends in the LGBTQ community."

Added Lopez: "It's meant the world to see how responsive and compassionate and accepting the staff has been to listening to the concerns of the LGBT community."

Friday's Out at the Park night featured a VIP pregame event in the "Park at the Park" area beyond center field. The bunting on the right-field seats featured rainbow coloring. And among the usual flags that fly above right field was a rainbow flag with the Padres' interlocking SD across it.

Said Bean: "For me to be a part of baseball a long time ago when these kinds of nights did not exist, it just fills me with great pride and hope for the future, as we continue to champion the message that everyone is welcome here if you love baseball."