Tampa Bay Rays Baseball Team Members Refuse to Wear Pride Jerseys
Several pitchers for a Florida Major League Baseball team — the Tampa Bay Rays — opted out of wearing the team's rainbow-emblazoned jerseys for Pride month.
According to TMZ, five of the MLB team's pitchers — Jason Adam, Jalen Beers, Brooks Raley, Jeffrey Springs and Ryan Thompson — refused to wear the jerseys for "faith-based" reasons during Pride Night at the stadium over the weekend. The modified uniforms appeared to feature a rainbow decal of the team's logo on the sleeve. The hats also included all of the colors of the rainbow in the embroidery for the team's initials.
Adam opened up about the decision to the Tampa Bay Times. He described it as "a hard decision."
"Ultimately we all said what we want is them to know that all are welcome and loved here," he explained. Despite that, he added that it became too much when they were faced with putting the uniforms on.
"I think a lot of guys decided that it’s just a lifestyle that maybe — not that they look down on anybody or think differently — it’s just that maybe we don’t want to encourage it if we believe in Jesus, who’s encouraged us to live a lifestyle that would abstain from that behavior, just like (Jesus) encourages me as a heterosexual male to abstain from sex outside of the confines of marriage. It’s no different."
Adam identifies as a "Christ follower" in the bio on his Instagram account.
Meanwhile Thompson shared a message that seemed to allude to the decision on his Instagram story. The message was originally shared by another of the team's pitchers, Nick Anderson.
"It's astonishing to me how people don't understand that different beliefs exist," Anderson wrote. "And because you have different beliefs, in no way, shape, or form does that mean you look down on that individual or think they are lesser. You can love everyone and have differing beliefs."
Check out Thompson's Instagram story post below:
Thompson also commented on the decision to WFLA. "Those of us who decided not to wear the patch or hat spent a couple weeks in prayer and a deep dive into scripture on the subject at hand to come to the decision that we did,” he said.
“I respect everyone’s free will to live their lives however they choose and can promise to treat nobody any different based upon their lifestyle,” Thompson added.
The team's manager Kevin Cash told the Tampa Bay Times that the uniforms were not mandatory and added that the other team members seemed to understand the decision.
"I think what it has created is, like, what you've heard — a lot of conversation and valuing the different perspectives inside the clubhouse but really appreciating the community that we're trying to support here," he said.
This marked the 16th year that the MLB team has celebrated Pride Night. The Tampa Bay Times noted this was the first time the team implemented Pride gear to the celebration. The outlet reported that more than half of the team did partake and was seen wearing the gear.
Check out some photos of the Pride gear shared by the team ahead of their Pride Night game below: