As Tampa Bay takes the field for this evening's Pride Night, the Rays will not only be standing in solidarity with the victims of Orlando's mass shooting at an LGBT nightclub last weekend, but will be honoring them with their uniforms as well.
Tonight the Rays will wear caps formerly worn by the Orlando Rays, the team's affiliate in the Double-A Southern League from 1999-2003.
The caps will be autographed and auctioned off, starting on Monday, June 20, at raysbaseball.com/auction, with 100 percent of the proceeds benefiting the Pulse Victims Fund.
In addition, all proceeds from tonight's game will likewise benefit the Fund. After the tragedy, tickets for tonight's Pride Night game were dropped to $5 and all processing fees were waived.
The demand for tickets was so high, the Rays have removed the tarps from the spare seats in the upper deck, which is normally reserved for events like the World Series. The game is a sell-out of the highest order.
Quoted by Bill Chastain in a MLB.com article, team President Brian Auld expressed his thanks:
"We are grateful for and proud of the region's response to our Pride Night dedication," said Rays president Brian Auld. "In the wake of a terrible tragedy, and in a matter of hours, 40,000 people have chosen to come together, to stand side by side in a show of support for the victims, their families, the City of Orlando and the greater LGBT community.
Shirts with the above We Are Orlando slogan and rainbow logo will be provided to every person at the game.
Proceeds from the team's daily 50/50 raffle will also benefit the Pulse Victims Fund, and parking will be $5 per car at all team-controlled lots.
Other notes on tonight's event:
- OneBlood will hold blood drives at Tropicana Field starting at 4 p.m. on Friday and 2 p.m. for Saturday's 4:10 p.m. game. Donors will receive a OneBlood T-shirt and a voucher for two tickets to any future 2016 regular season game, redeemable online.
- The national anthem and "God Bless America" will performed by Una Voce, the Florida Men's Chorale.
- There will be a video prerecorded by Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred. MLB Vice President of Social Responsibility and Inclusion Billy Bean will throw out the ceremonial first pitch and Senior Vice President, Diversity and Strategic Alliances Wendy Lewis will also be in attendance.
- The Rays and Giants will also observe a moment of silence while the names of the Orlando shooting victims will be scrolled on the video board.