There was joy amongst many Dodgers fans last night, and it wasn’t just because they rallied to defeat the National League-leading Braves last night 8-6 in rainy Atlanta (which, as a Mets fan, I was doubly happy about). A more important victory occurred with the announcement yesterday afternoon that you see at the top of today’s entry.
As the LOS ANGELES TIMES’ Steve Henson and Sonia Sharp reported:
Less than a week after removing the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence from their lineup, the Dodgers on Monday re-invited the organization to Pride Night amid backlash from LGBTQ+ and civil rights groups as well as local politicians and even Dodgers employees.
“The Dodgers would like to offer our sincerest apologies to the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, members of the LGBTQ+ community and their friends and families,” the Dodgers said in a statement. “We have asked the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence to take their place on the field at our 10th annual LGBTQ+ Pride Night.”
The Dodgers had been under enormous public pressure after caving to pressure from conservative groups, an ugly tale which the TIMES summarized as follows:
When the Dodgers originally announced that the Sisters would be honored in a pregame ceremony, the conservative Catholic League and CatholicVote protested, saying the Sisters’ long history of lampooning church traditions amounted to bigotry.
R.M. Vierling, a Catholic priest with a large social media following, posted on Twitter that he had written to Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred about “this outrageous insult to Catholics” and listed Manfred’s email address online.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) also sent a letter to Manfred expressing dismay that the Dodgers would honor the Sisters.
The Dodgers and the commissioner’s office in New York were inundated with calls and emails that two Dodgers employees familiar with the team’s thinking said were a factor in the decision not to give the Sisters the Community Hero Award, which in 2019 went to the L.A. LGBT Center and in 2017 to three Purple Heart recipients during Military Appreciation Night.
But for as much as the Dodgers should be applauded for not bowing to pressure from an out-of-state and out-of-touch Republican senator and his minions, it can’t be ignored that Pride Night isn’t strictly an event staged for the greater good of inclusion. I was at Pride Night ’22; it happened to fall during a series with the Mets. I wound up mistakedly standing in a long line of fans waiting to get into the game; turns out there was a special line for those who had bought a special ticket package–at a higher price–that included a special rainbow-hued Dodger jersey honoring the event as well as other special goodies. It was an enthusiastic sellout crowd and yep, a whole lotta Mets fan were in attendance. I’m gonna take a leap of faith that based on what are know are the demographics of San Francisco LGBTQs an awful lot of Giants fans will be in attendance on June 16th. I also know those demographics reveal that regardless of which baseball team they like they’ll be disproportionately able and willing to indulge in $27 micheladas and $28 Moscow Mules than many fans.
The fact that the backlash to the Dodgers’ initial decision was so great as to potentially threaten the night itself can’t go unnoticed. And it also should be noted that the Dodgers happen to employ an excellent and outspoken person whose neck is essentially on the line regarding events like this, as the TIMES further explained:
(T)he outrage triggered by that decision threatened to derail Pride Night entirely, an outcome unacceptable to the Dodgers, whose senior vice president for marketing, communications and broadcasting, Erik Braverman, is gay and a respected voice in championing LGBTQ+ acceptance throughout baseball. He spearheaded the implementation of Dodgers Pride Night in 2013.
“As it stands now, we’d lose our Pride Night,” one of the employees who requested anonymity said Thursday, the day the Dodgers cut ties with the Sisters. “I don’t know how we’d come back from that.”
So yesterday’s events were indeed necessary for reasons involving the color green as much as Dodger blue, or any other color in the rainbow, At least the Sisters were able to demonstrate their ability to forgive, if not forget:
Sister Unity compared her reaction to what many experience after coming out.
“There’s this feeling afterward that’s a little bit of elation, and it settles into a calm contentment that you are safe,” she said. “People on the other side of the country feel free to sling epithets. But people who talk with us, including the Dodgers, learn what is real.”
Sister Unity may be able to demonstrate her ability to turn the other cheek if she happens to be seated near the box seats behind home plate. She probably will recognize a couple of fellow fans, as well as their connection to someone who helped stoke this fire. Because it should also be noted that two prominent and long-time Dodgers’ season ticket holders, veteran TV producer Burt Sugarman and former ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT host Mary Hart, hosted several fund-raisers for Rubio during his ill-fated run for the presidency. I don’t have their e-mails these days, but here’s what these two look like lately. You couldn’t avoid their likelinesses during the 2020 season when their cardboard cutouts were a fixture right behind home plate.
My initial inclination would be to gloat and taunt these out-of-touch relics from past TV glory the next time you see them, particularly on June 16th were they to show up. (Somehow, the real-life Burt and Mary don’t attend as many games these days, at least in their seats, as their placards did in 2020).
On second thought, I should probably take my lead from the likes of Sister Unity, who seems more inclined to ignore or perhaps offer an olive branch to folks like the Sugarmans. And perhaps that should extend to the Dodgers themselves. Because no matter what ultimately did motivate this reversal, at least in this case the desired result was achieved.
And that’s something we can all be proud of.