June 7, 2021

Giants Are First Major League Team To Feature Pride Colours On Caps And Jerseys

On Saturday, the San Francisco Giants wore caps with Pride colors in their logo and a Pride-colored "SF" patch on their jerseys. The on-field expression of support for LGBTQ rights was unprecedented in major league history.

Kevin Gausman, the Giants' starting pitcher: "This is a city that's really inclusive. It was fun to be a part of. I've never worn a hat like that before, so that was cool."

Every team has hosted at least one promotional day celebrating their LGBTQ fans over the past two decades — this season, only Texas does not have a Pride celebration of some kind on its schedule — but this was the first time the recognition involved the players on the field.

The Red Sox's Pride Night is next Thursday, June 10, against the Astros. (The Yankees were the last major league team to hold a Pride Night, finally agreeing to do so in June 2019)

"I think it's an exciting moment for our team, for our organization. I'm very proud of our group for publicly supporting the LGBTQ+ community," Giants Manager Gabe Kapler said before the game. "I think it's an important step, and I think we're all standing behind the community."

Shauna Daum, the Giants' senior vice president of public affairs and community relations, said that the "uncomfortable, difficult conversations that we're all having because of what's happened in the last year allowed us to really get honest input and increase the comfort of some of our employees".

The Washington Post reported that the Giants had been considering incorporating its uniform into its Pride celebration for several years. MLB must approve any changes to uniforms worn on the field.
While initial conversations years ago included the six rainbow colors traditionally used to celebrate the gay and lesbian communities, employees raised the importance of including black and brown to communicate support for Black and Brown members of the LGBTQ community, and of including the light blue, pink and white colors of the transgender flag. The hats the Giants wore Saturday included all 11 colors. . . .

MLB players are, by and large, more conservative than their counterparts in the NFL and NBA. Anyone spending time in a major league clubhouse in recent decades could hear more than a handful of gay slurs tossed around with no one stepping in to say they shouldn't be — even as diversity and inclusivity training has become more prevalent. No player has been openly gay during his time in the major leagues.

MLB leadership traditionally has not made leading on issues of social justice and inclusivity a priority, either. The sport is governed largely by owners known for being dragged into conversations of social justice rather than starting them. The Giants' Charles B. Johnson, for one, is a longtime and generous contributor to far-right political personalities.

When Commissioner Rob Manfred announced in April that MLB would move the All-Star Game out of Atlanta because of laws passed in Georgia that many argue will make it more difficult for Black people to vote, the decision stunned the sports world. . . .

Just a decade ago, Baum remembered talking to young Giants players who would arrive in San Francisco having never knowingly met a gay person. . . .
A team statement explained the 11 colours:
The 11 colours of the new Pride logo are emblematic of the Progress Pride Flag and signify inclusion and progression with the six pride colours . . . red for life, orange for healing, yellow for sunlight, green for nature, blue for serenity, purple for spirit, black and brown to recognize LGBTQ+ people of colour, and light blue, pink and white to recognize people who are transgender.
Part of the reason the Giants took this step at this time was manager Gabe Kapler (also a member of the 2004 Red Sox).
He hired the first woman to serve on a major league coaching staff, Alyssa Nakken. He knelt during the national anthem last year to protest systemic racism. And he started a foundation called Pipeline for Change to help underrepresented groups, including the LGBTQ community, find their way into baseball jobs.

Kapler talked to his team about the meaning of the Pride hats, Daum said, adding that the organization brought in members of the LGBTQ community to talk to the players. She said the Giants also sought help from veteran leaders in the clubhouse, players who grew up as Giants and have come to appreciate diversity in their fan base. 
The first professional baseball team to feature Pride colors as part of their jerseys was the Eugene (Oregon) Emeralds, at the time a Class A affiliate of the Cubs. The team's decision to incorporate the rainbow flag into the numbers on the back of their uniforms was in part inspired by GM Allan Benavides, whose grandmother is gay. (Benavides flew her in for the celebration.)

The Emeralds are currently an affiliate of the Giants.

* * *


FenFan said...

I would hope that the Red Sox and other teams follow suit very soon. Kudos to the Hebrew Hammer and the Giants for setting the bar!

laura k said...

Fantastic. As FenFan says, the Giants are raising the bar.