(how times have changed….or perhaps just the team’s fortunes)
Outsports.com’s Cyd Ziegler took to the Huffington Post yesterday to consider “an inclusive trend” in Major League Baseball, namely efforts on the part of ballclubs to host “Gay Nights”. As Ziegler explains, the teams “are no longer waiting for Gay people to pitch them the events”.
In 2004 I organized a “gay night” with the New York Mets. It wasn’t easy. When I first approached them, they were very reticent; one team executive even wondered aloud in a meeting with me, “What do we do if a guy dressed as a woman tries to use the women’s restroom?” There was some twisting of arms back then, and I felt I had to let them know that “of course, if you don’t make this happen, I’ll have to call my friends at the New York Daily News and let them know.”
On Monday, Sept. 26, the New York Mets held their second “gay night.” This time it’s the team itself that created and is organizing the event, led by Mets account executive Stu Cohen. They’re reaching out to gay organizations, lowering ticket costs (as well they should, given that they’re out of the playoffs) and hoping this becomes an annual event.
For the most part, there’s no altruism here. Teams have empty seats and need them filled. You’ll never see the New York Jets or Los Angeles Lakers have a “gay night” — why? Because they sell out already! But the fact that the Mets, struggling to sell tickets in September, would turn to the gay community is a sign of how far we’ve come since they worried seven years ago about transgender bathrooms.
It’s also a sign that in September 2011, there was no ticket less coveted than one to watch National League baseball in New York City. Though Cohen finds this development relatively encouraging, keep in mind the Mets have opted not to participate in the “It Gets Better” campaign.
And what should the Mets have done if a man dressed as a woman tried to use the women’s room? Surely ace executive Jeff Wilpon could’ve said, “Sorry, Mr. Johansen, please use my private suite, instead,”.