1. Sports
  2. /
  3. Rays

Rays’ Pride Night extends team’s long support of LGBTQ community

Tampa Bay’s baseball team has a history of going to bat for diversity.
Groundskeepers spray a rainbow Rays logo on the mound before the Tampa Bay Rays game against the Los Angeles Angels on June 14, 2019 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. (MONICA HERNDON | Times)
Published Jun. 14
Updated Jun. 15

ST. PETERSBURG — Rainbow flags draped the corners of Tropicana Field on Friday.

A special “Rays” sign lit in rainbow colors sat above the RumFish Grill deck in left center field, and special Stonewall Riot exhibit from Equality Florida sat in the Budweiser Porch area.

Jane Castor, Tampa’s first openly gay mayor, threw out the first pitch.

The Rays saluted the LGTBQ community with Pride Night Friday, but unlike some franchises, the team’s commemorative night did not represent a new endeavor for the Rays. SB Nation reports that this is the first year every MLB team will feature a special recognition of the community, but it’s been a regular staple in Tampa Bay for many years.

In fact, Tampa Bay welcomed a sellout crowd of more than 40,000 to its Pride Night in 2016, an event that was months in the making but occurred just days after the Pulse massacre in Orlando.

Rays president Brian Auld said Friday that the memorable 2016 Pride Night game and Friday’s celebration signify the team’s long-term commitment to setting a tone of inclusion.

“I think that we were able to do what we did that night because of the credibility that we had earned with that community many years prior,” Auld said. “The most obvious one was when we were the first and for awhile the only team to sign on to the Supreme Court amicus in favor of marriage equality.

“It’s hard to believe that was less than five years ago. So, having done that, having participated in the It Gets Better Campaign, which again, at the time for a sports team to be involved in that, especially for a sports team in the south to be involved with that, it was pretty incredible.”

Mayor of Tampa Jane Castor throws out the ceremonial first pitch on Pride Night before the Rays face the Angels on Friday. (MONICA HERNDON | Times)

Auld said the team’s efforts to support the LGBTQ community continue. The franchise recently signed a new Supreme Court amicus brief that calls for a prohibition against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in the work place or other areas. The Rays also are working closely with Athlete Ally and Equality Florida to strengthen workplace protections for LGTBQ persons.

On Friday, the team’s celebration also included a special artist print in its season-long series from Jabari Reed-Diop, an up-and-coming artist known as iBoms. The print features Raymond, the Rays mascot, wearing a rainbow shirt. Fans who purchased a special ticket page received a Rays Pride Hat. Many Rays personnel also sported “TB Pride” T-shirts with the team’s sunburst logo in rainbow colors.

Auld said the efforts all gear toward promoting diversity and inclusion.

“That sort of tolerance in our society is good for everybody,” Auld said. “We focus on the LGBTQ community tonight because there’s been a history of marginalization in this country and we need to recognize that and deal with it. But this is a night of celebration, a celebration of all the progress that has been made.”

Contact Ernest Hooper at Follow @hoop4you.


  1. Pat Williams is the former GM of the Orlando Magic basketball team and was involved in unsuccessful efforts to lure an expansion team in the 1990s. JASON DECROW  |  AP
    Longtime sports exec Pat Williams is holding a news conference Wednesday to talk about getting a team.
  2. Tampa Bay Rays' Carlos Pena hits a sixth-inning solo home run off New York Yankees pitcher Sidney Ponson in their baseball game at Yankee Stadium on July 9, 2008. KATHY WILLENS  |  AP
    Just the other day, Pena’s son asked him about being considered for the Hall.
  3. FILE - In this Sept. 20, 2019, file photo, Miami Marlins CEO Derek Jeter smiles as he speaks during a news conference in Miami. Derek Jeter is among 18 newcomers on the 2020 Hall of Fame ballot, announced Monday, Nov. 18, 2019, and is likely to be an overwhelming choice to join former New York Yankees teammate Mariano Rivera in Cooperstown after the reliever last year became the first unanimous pick by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File) WILFREDO LEE  |  AP
    Former Rays Carlos Pena and Heath Bell are also among the 18 up for election for the first time.
  4. Long faces dominate some of the remaining Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans during the fourth quarter of the game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New Orleans Saints at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday, November 17, 2019, in Tampa. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: What remaining game will Tampa Bay be favored to win?
  5. The cover of the book Grassroots Baseball: Where Legends Begin Courtesy Jean Fruth
    The 224-page book features a chapter on Tampa, and an essay by Hall of Famer Wade Boggs.
  6. Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) delivers a pitch in the fourth inning against the Houston Astros in Game 5 of the American League Division Series on Oct. 10 in Houston. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    Rays Tales: Team execs on Houston’s big problem, a base for winter acquisitions, trophy time and an upcoming owners meeting.
  7. Jameis Winston (3) points to fans after the Bucs' 2017 victory over the New Orleans Saints. Tampa Bay Times
    Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Previewing Bucs-Saints, justice for the Astros, answers for the Lightning.
  8. FILE - In this July 24, 2019, file photo, Houston Astros starting pitcher Justin Verlander throws to an Oakland Athletics batter during a baseball game in Houston. Verlander has been awarded his second AL Cy Young Award. MICHAEL WYKE  |  AP
    The Mets’ Jacob deGrom wins the NL award for the second straight year.
  9. Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash talks with reporters in the dugout the day after clinching a playoff spot. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    Former Ray Rocco Baldelli wins top honors after his first season with the Twins, Aaron Boone was second.
  10. Erik Neander, Tampa Bay Rays senior vice president of baseball operations and general manager, addresses the media during a press conference at Tropicana Field Friday, Oct. 11, 2019 in St. Petersburg. DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Award came from a vote of team executives; Yankees Cashman was second.