During this month of June over a third of MLB teams have or will be hosting an LGBT community night in celebration of Pride Month. LGBT Pride Nights have taken place at MLB ballparks for close to two decades.
Recently, the Dodgers sold close to 8,000 tickets for their LGBT night, a record for any team. As the 2nd largest city in the United States with all it’s diversity, it is no surprise that the Dodgers attract so many fans from the gay and lesbian community. It’s more than just a one-night celebration that brings out not just the LGBT community but several other communities as well.
Dodgers Executive Vice-President & Chief Marketing Officer Lon Rosen told Cyd Zeigler of Outsports his aim is to create a genuine and reciprocal affection between the community and the team. “At the end of the day though, the real reason the attendance grows every year is because of the fan experience”, Rosen told Outsports. The sentiment of the fan experience is also echoed to me by Bay Area radio host Greg Sherrell (Q&A with Greg later in this post…)
The fan experience, and undoubtedly the Dodgers outstanding play on the field which has given the fans 4 straight NL West Titles, certainly plays a huge role in the growth of the attendance.
Of all the major professional sports, baseball has a growing interest among the LGBT community. During a recent road trip to Oakland, I had a chance to attend an LGBT night hosted by the A’s. During a pregame reception I came across the promotional tent for local radio station KVMQ, 99.7 Now. I recently had a Q&A with Greg Sherrell of Fernando & Greg , a Bay Area weekday morning talk show featuring the gay tandem. A huge fan of The University of Texas, his alma mater, as well as a diehard Cowboys, Mavericks and Rangers fan, Greg is a native Texan, having grown up in Watauga, Texas a suburb of Fort Worth.
Andrei- Almost half the league is scheduled to host LGBT Night this month and throughout the season. What is it about baseball that brings the LGBT community to the yard ?
Greg- First of all I think the baseball has been the most proactive in reaching out to LGBTQ fans because of the amount of home games that each team plays. Baseball more than any other sport needs to fill seats and I think they are always looking for a way to do that. In that way, I think they need to be the most inclusive and welcoming. As far as why I think the LGBTQ community embraces baseball, I think it’s like any community. There’s just something about being at a baseball game. It’s the least intense and most social of the games. There are lots of opportunities to be social, spend time with family and friends, even meet new people, walk around the park and enjoy the weather. At a football game it’s all about what’s happening on the field. At a baseball game it’s really about the entire experience.
Andrei- Does Pride Month taking place in June during the season play a factor?
Greg- Well I think obviously June being Pride month sets up the natural tie in with baseball that the other sports might not have.
Andrei- Greg, growing up a fan of all Dallas teams, who was your favorite Ranger?
Greg- My favorite Ranger when I was a kid was Bump Wills. Nolan Ryan was certainly a hero in the Metroplex while I was in junior high and high school. The Rangers were always horrible when I was a kid and when they signed Ryan it gave the team instant legitimacy and a national presence for the first time. I actually interned for the Rangers right after college which was a great experience. I worked directly with Pudge Rodriguez executing his foundation’s mission to bring kids from the local children’t hospital’s to the ballpark for game. Juan Gonzales was probably my biggest crush. Darren Oliver was the nicest to me. As far as now, I love Rougned Odor! He plays with such passion. You can tell he loves the game and I have never seen anyone play harder. Plus he landed one of the all time great punches when he hit Jose Bautista.
Andrei- With the Astros off to a hot start what do the Rangers need in order to stay in contention for a post-season berth (Assuming they don’t catch Houston)
Greg- The Rangers had a rough start to the season but manager Jeff Banister really is a steady hand. He has the team back at .500 when it looked like they were toast. They will be getting the ace of their pitching staff back in the next month or so so I think they will be okay. I don’t think they are going to catch Houston, but they are in the hunt for a wildcard.
Andrei- The Astros have been highly competitive the last 3 seasons and are a threat to run away with the AL West. The Rangers have made the post season six times this decade with 4 division titles under their belt. Last season, the Rangers had the Astros number, this season to this point the Astros have returned the favor. Is the in-state rivalry finally reaching it’s peak?
Greg- The two teams have been more contentious this year than in years past. There’s definitely no love lost between the two. The Astros haven’t reached their full potential the last two to three years but now seem to be gelling. It’s interesting because like with any rivalry between Houston and DFW, it’s seems like Houston is much more invested. Dallas is pretty indifferent to Houston in pretty much everything where Houston hates Dallas.
Andrei- The two of you have been on the air in The Bay Area for over 10 years, your morning show continues to run strong. Even with podcasts easily accessible to anyone, have you two ever considered taking your show to a national level?
Greg- We have talked to some people about taking the show nationally and I am hoping that it will happen in the future.
Andrei- On a personal note, as a huge fan of Jose Bautista, what are your feelings toward him? Is he public enemy number one to all Rangers fans?
Greg- As far as Bautista, the Jays and Rangers HATE each other. The ugly scene in the playoffs a few years ago when Toronto fans threw beer bottles on the field really cemented it. I would say the hate for Toronto is much greater than Houston. I LOVE when he got smashed in the face by Odor, which kind of started the whole thing. It showed if you are gonna bow up in Texas you better be ready to go. Despite it all though, I have to admit, he’s pretty HOT! 🙂 But he’s definitely public enemy number one in Texas!!!
As Greg stated, the LGBTQ community is like any other community. Baseball really is about the entire experience. Of all the sports baseball does allow for more social time among friends and family to relax and take in the entire experience surrounding the game. Speed up the game? What’s the hurry? You’re with great company of all backgrounds.
LGBT Night in Oakland, 6/6/2017, Toronto Blue Jays vs Oakland Athletics
Love not Hate (Photo Courtesy of KVMQ 99.7 Now)
Stadium Journey Update…
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