St. Louis Cardinals

Cardinals adding Pride Night to Busch Stadium schedule

Lance Berkman smiles as he stretches before Game 2 of baseball's World Series against the Texas Rangers in 2011. The former Cardinals first baseman will speak during a Christian Day at Busch Stadium July 30.
Lance Berkman smiles as he stretches before Game 2 of baseball's World Series against the Texas Rangers in 2011. The former Cardinals first baseman will speak during a Christian Day at Busch Stadium July 30. AP

The St. Louis Cardinals on Friday announced the addition of Pride Night to their theme ticket schedule for this season.

The club will host the special event for members of the LGBT community for the first time at Busch Stadium for a 7:15 p.m. Aug. 25 game against the Tampa Bay Rays.

“We have hosted many LGBT groups at Busch Stadium over the years, but this is a bigger effort which will remind fans that everyone is welcome at Busch Stadium,” said Cardinals President Bill DeWitt III through a release. “The event will also raise money to help courageous students in our community.”

The team has said the Pride Night event has been in the works for months, but Friday’s announcement came after it received criticism for inviting former first baseman Lance Berkman to speak at its annual Christian Day event July 30.

In 2015, Berkman had campaigned against an equal-rights ordinance proposed in Houston, including lending his voice to a radio advertisement.

“To me, tolerance is a virtue that’s killing this country. We’re tolerant of everything,” he said on KTRH 740 AM in Houston. “You know, everything is OK, and as long as you want to do it, and as long as it feels good to you, then it’s perfectly acceptable do it. Those are the kinds of things that lead you down a slippery slope, and you’ll get in trouble in a hurry.”

Berkman later clarified that his opposition to the proposed law was limited to language he believed would open public restrooms to transgender individuals.

The Pride Center of St. Louis and other LGBT groups pressured the Cardinals either to cancel the scheduled Christian Day or disinvite Berkman to speak. The club refused either but issued a statement indicating its intent to host the Pride Night.

“The St. Louis Cardinals have hosted a Christian Day at the ballpark for nearly three decades. Lance Berkman participated in Christian Day when he was a Cardinals player, and we welcome him back this year to discuss his faith,” the statement read. “We are an inclusive organization with a social responsibility to be welcoming to all types of people and organizations.”

Fans who purchase the special Pride Night theme ticket will receive a Cardinals baseball cap with a rainbow STL logo. A portion of each ticket purchased will be donated to the PrideSTL Scholarship Fund.

“We are thrilled the Cardinals have decided to help empower, protect, and celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community by hosting a Pride Night this season,” said Marty Zuniga, vice president of Pride St. Louis. “Our supporters look forward to an incredible evening of baseball at Busch Stadium and hope this event will be a springboard for more inclusion, diversity and equality among all people around the region.”

Fans can purchase tickets for Pride Night and view the remaining 2017 theme ticket schedule at cardinals.com/theme.

Todd Eschman: 618-239-2540, @tceschman

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