Cardinal Pitcher Calls Out Tampa Bay Rays Players for Not Wearing Pride Patches

Monday June 6, 2022

When the Tampa Bay Rays took the field on Saturday night for Pride Night, not all the players wore the designated Pride patches. On Monday, Cardinal pitcher Jack Flaherty shot back at the five players — pitchers Jason Adam, Jalen Beeks, Brooks Raley, Jeffrey Springs, and Ryan Thompson — for their refusal.

On Twitter, Flaherty wrote: "Absolute joke."

In an attempt to make their commitment to the LGBTQ community more visible, the Rays decided to add "rainbow-colored logos to their Pride Night uniforms, to the "TB" on their caps and a sunburst on their right jersey sleeves," reports the Tampa Bay Times.

The Times says that, though no exact figure is available, more than half the team participated. Speaking for the five pitchers who refused to join in, pitcher Jason Adams said:

"A lot of it comes down to faith, to like a faith-based decision," Adam said. "So it's a hard decision. Because ultimately we all said what we want is them to know that all are welcome and loved here. But when we put it on our bodies, I think a lot of guys decided that it's just a lifestyle that maybe — not that they look down on anybody or think differently — it's just that maybe we don't want to encourage it if we believe in Jesus, who's encouraged us to live a lifestyle that would abstain from that behavior, just like (Jesus) encourages me as a heterosexual male to abstain from sex outside of the confines of marriage. It's no different."

He added: "It's not judgmental. It's not looking down. It's just what we believe the lifestyle he's encouraged us to live, for our good, not to withhold. But again, we love these men and women, we care about them, and we want them to feel safe and welcome here."

In a report, radio station 97/1 'The Ticket' writes that "while manager Kevin Cash insists the controversy won't divide the locker room or have any bearing on team camaraderie, it's created a PR nightmare for the Rays with players being accused of homophobia. LGBT rights have come a long way in this country with significant progress made in recent years, though hatred and bigotry still exist, particularly in the Rays' home state of Florida, where governor Ron DeSantis recently signed the 'Don't Say Gay' bill into law, prohibiting educators from discussing sexual orientation or gender identity in schools."

But, the radio station adds, "Cardinals ace Jack Flaherty, who is on the comeback trail after battling shoulder bursitis throughout spring training (he recently began a minor-league rehab assignment with Double-A Springfield), weighed in on social media, calling the five players who refused to take part in Pride Night an 'absolute joke' for using religion to mask their intolerance."

On his Twitter bio, Flaherty quotes the Bible (Philippians 4:13 ): "I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me." Adding: "It's possible to believe in a higher power without alienating an entire group of people. As Pride Month rolls on, hopefully players on other teams will be more accommodating toward the LGBT community, celebrating gay and transgender rights instead of dismissing one of the most important social movements of the 21st century."