This would have been a huge kerfuffle just a few years ago, but in a sign that times are changing the Inland Empire 66ers (High Class A; California League) hosted groups of Boy Scouts and a local gay-pride organization on the same night without incident.
It wasn’t that long ago that Fox News talkmeister Bill O’Reilly decried the San Diego Padres for hosting a gay night at Petco Park on a night where a kids promotion was scheduled: “You’re putting too many gays into an area. That’s the problem. Nobody objects to homosexuals going to a baseball game, that’s un-American to do that, but if you’re going to cluster them on a promotion night…why would you do it on a ‘kids night’?”
The same thing happened to the 66ers, whose group-sales efforts ended up scheduling groups of Boy Scouts and a local gay group via an “Out at the Ballpark” event. There were some attacks on the team, causing the 66ers’ Kevin Shaw to stress that “Out at the Ballpark” was merely a group event and not an official promotion. But the attacks were few and far between. The local CEO of the Boy Scouts had no issue with the two groups being at the ballpark; perhaps the person with the most concern was the leader of the local gay organization, who worried about the safety of her group’s members.
The end result: meh. A few parents of Boy Scouts apparently skipped the game, but Shaw says no one asked for a refund. By all reports it was a great night, with no incidents at all. No protests, no yelling, no insults…just another night at the ballpark. There are certainly ways teams can trip up in their treatment of gay groups — the Minnesota Twins are finding that out — but as a society we’re way past the days when the mere presence of a gay group at the ballpark was an occasion for hordes of protesters at the front gates.
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