Seeing Double

Courtesy of the Minnesota Twins
Courtesy of the Minnesota Twins

An old tradition combines with a new tradition—the Minnesota Twins’ Pride Night

It might have started in Cincinnati, in 1869.

Or it might have started in New York City, in 1882. Or in 1889.

Whenever, wherever it started, it (probably) was formalized by William Howard Taft (the POTUS, not the cobbler): during a 1910 baseball game between the Philadelphia Athletics and the Washington Senators—who would become the Minnesota Twins just five decades later–the Spectator-in-Chief, compelled by the grind of stillness, rose to his feet and shook all 331 pounds of his bathtub-clogging body, unable to wait for two-and-a-half more innings to do so. His fellow fans/citizens felt a civic duty not to let the Head of State look like a total schlemiel, so they schlimazled to their feet and joined him in it, or so the story goes.

It, of course, was the seventh inning stretch.

Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Twins

The Minnesota Twins have, in recent years, crystallized a second, younger tradition, the annual celebration of Pride Night. Minnesota Twins Senior Coordinator of Community Relations, Chelsey Falzone, announces “Twins Pride Night will be held at our game on Tuesday, July 6th, at 7:10 pm against the Chicago White Sox.”  Twins fans who purchase a Pride Theme Night package will receive a customizable Twins Pride Night jersey with their personal pronoun of choice, “None of the Above” not being an option.

Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Twins

Like all traditions, Pride Night won’t happen in a vacuum…and the context in 2021 is a uniquely sober one: the COVID pandemic, although waning, still casts the shadow of precaution over the prismy celebration. “We certainly understand the concerns of our communities…and the concerns are multifaceted, complex and valid,” says Falzone. “Our promise to Twins Territory is that we have been working–and will continue to work with–local authorities, public safety agencies and public health experts to ensure we are doing everything we can to keep our guests safe.”Photo courtesy of the Minnesota TwinsPhoto courtesy of the Minnesota TwinsThe delivery of these assurances won’t eclipse the promotion’s purpose, though.  “When we say everyone is welcome here, we really mean it,” Falzone insists.  “Target Field is a place where fans of all different places can feel welcome and joyful while enjoying an outdoor ballgame. We are so excited to celebrate Pride Night on July 6th and cannot wait to see people smile and celebrate the love and unity that our community has longed for!”

In 1934, the song that would become North American baseball’s anthem was added to the tradition of the seventh inning stretch, a tune that takes on an added resonance and new frequency of meaning while experiencing the new tradition of Pride Night: “Take Me Out to the Ball Park”.

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