When several Tampa Bay Rays players refused to wear rainbow-decorated uniforms for the baseball team’s Pride Night on Saturday, openly gay professional baseball player Bryan Ruby called them out for their foul behavior.
“Discrimination and hate has a voice in baseball,” Ruby said, “and you saw it in Tampa.”
Ruby, who plays baseball for the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, came out as gay in 2021, making him the only out baseball player who is currently on a professional team. (The Volcanoes, although professional, are not currently affiliated with any major or minor league baseball organization. They are, however, ranked higher than Tiktok superstars Savannah Bananas.)
“A lot of guys just don’t get that they’ve always had, and will continue to have, gay teammates,” Ruby told USA Today. “Such antiquated language and behavior actively hurts the team. It’s hard enough to be gay in baseball.”
View this post on Instagram
Major league baseball teams celebrate “pride nights” by giving baseball players special uniforms with small rainbow embellishments, such as patches and hats, to wear during a game. But at Saturday’s game in Tampa, five of the Rays’ players refused to wear the Pride Night uniforms, and they issued a statement saying that they had nothing against gay and trans people, but they could not participate because of their religious faith.
Rays pitcher Jason Adam, one of the five protesting players, spoke to the media on behalf of the group, saying “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.”
Ruby wasn’t having it. “It always baffles me when guys use Jesus as their excuse to discriminate,” he said. “This isn’t about religion. This is about being a good teammate. When guys go out of their way to make a point of opposing Pride Night, they’re sending a clear message that people like me just aren’t welcome in baseball.”
Several major league players also voiced criticisms of the anti-pride players. Kevin Kiermaier, who also plays for the Rays, told Tampa Bay Times that his protesting teammates needed to lighten up.
“My parents taught me to love everyone as they are, go live your life, whatever your preferences are, go be you,” Kiermaier said. “I can’t speak for everyone who’s in here, obviously, but this is a family-friendly environment here at a big-league ball field … We just want everyone to feel welcomed and included and cheer us on. No matter what your views on anything are.”