Safeco Field usher reprimands lesbian couple for public display of affection


File this under “well, it was certainly handled better than it might’ve been a few years ago” but make sure you file a duplicate under “yet, the fact that this still happens says a lot about some folks’ feelings about gay people.”

Outsports reports that, last Friday, at the Angles-Mariners game, a lesbian couple was issued a reprimand by a Safeco Field usher — basically, they were informed, in writing, of a complaint by other fans — for a public display of affection. Hugging and kissing. Nothing unusual and nothing extreme.  They were nonetheless told that they needed to stop because their behavior was inappropriate in a “public, family setting.” Clearly, someone was icked-out because a same-sex couple was doing the same thing opposite sex couples do all the time.

The couple then went to guest services to object to the reprimand. To the Mariners’ credit, they immediately apologized, rescinded the reprimand (for whatever the reprimand was worth in the first place) and that was followed up by a heartfelt message from a Mariners manager on Monday, again apologizing and then offering to invite then back to a future game for a better Mariners game experience. Outsports has a transcript of the message left by the Mariners employee, which unlike so many other apologies from businesses, was thoughtful and human [Hold that thought: see the update below].

We live in a way more more enlightened and accepting society when it comes to such matters now than we ever have, but the fact that some people would lodge a formal complaint over gay people doing the exact thing straight people do all the dang time at a ballpark — and that a stadium employee would endorse the complaint formally like this usher did — speaks to just how far we still have to go.

Kudos, however, to the Mariners for immediately and positively responding.

UPDATE: Wait, let’s retract the kudos. It seems the Mariners walked back the apology and retreated to the position that the couple acted inappropriately:

Despite the overt apology by Swisher, and her absolving the couple of any wrongdoing in the voicemail, on Tuesday Mariners spokesperson Rebecca Hale spun a completely different story about what triggered the incident on Friday, telling Outsports that, according to reports, the couple acted inappropriately.

Hale said the usher received two complaints — one of them from a fellow Safeco Field staff member — that the two lesbians were “making out” with one another and should be stopped. Plus, despite Swisher telling the couple that the usher regretted the encounter, Hale told Outsports that the usher’s own written statement maintained that the couple was “making out” and that the usher “felt it was not appropriate for the public setting.”

When asked about Swisher contacting the lesbian couple and apologizing, Hale dismissed the outreach as protocol.

My fault for the first version of this story that left that out. It was just careless on my part. I got to the part where the employee left the apologetic message, felt like it was at a resolution, and then did a bad skim down beyond it, missing a paragraph or two because a quick scan made me think it was all just the later historical backfill. Apologies.


Jones, Maddux, Morris consider Bonds, Clemens for Hall


COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. — Hall of Famers Chipper Jones, Greg Maddux, Jack Morris and Ryne Sandberg are among 16 members of the contemporary baseball era committee that will meet to consider the Cooperstown fate of an eight-man ballot that includes Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Rafael Palmeiro.

Hall of Famers Lee Smith, Frank Thomas and Alan Trammell also are on the panel, which will meet in San Diego ahead of the winter meetings.

They will be joined by former Toronto CEO Paul Beeston, former Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs executive Theo Epstein, Anaheim Angels owner Arte Moreno, Miami Marlins general manager Kim Ng, Minnesota Twins president Dave St. Peter and Chicago White Sox executive vice president Ken Williams.

Three media members/historians are on the committee: longtime statistical analyst Steve Hirdt of Stats Perform, La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune and Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Neal and Slusser are past presidents of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

Hall Chairman Jane Forbes Clark will be the committee’s non-voting chair.

The ballot also includes Albert Belle, Don Mattingly, Fred McGriff, Dale Murphy and Curt Schilling. The committee considers candidates whose careers were primarily from 1980 on. A candidate needs 75% to be elected and anyone who does will be inducted on July 23, along with anyone chosen in the BBWAA vote, announced on Jan. 24.

Bonds, Clemens and Schilling fell short in January in their 10th and final appearances on the BBWAA ballot. Bonds received 260 of 394 votes (66%), Clemens 257 (65.2%) and Schilling 231 (58.6%).

Palmeiro was dropped from the BBWAA ballot after receiving 25 votes (4.4%) in his fourth appearance in 2014, falling below the 5% minimum needed to stay on. His high was 72 votes (12.6%) in 2012.

Bonds denied knowingly using performance-enhancing drugs and Clemens maintains he never used PEDs. Palmeiro was suspended for 10 days in August 2005 following a positive test under the major league drug program, just over two weeks after getting his 3,000th hit.

A seven-time NL MVP, Bonds set the career home run record with 762 and the season record with 73 in 2001. A seven-time Cy Young Award winner, Clemens went 354-184 with a 3.12 ERA and 4,672 strikeouts, third behind Nolan Ryan (5,714) and Randy Johnson (4,875). Palmeiro had 3,020 hits and 568 homers.

Schilling fell 16 votes shy with 285 (71.1%) in 2021. Support dropped after hateful remarks he made in retirement toward Muslims, transgender people, reporters and others.

McGriff got 169 votes (39.8%) in his final year on the BBWAA ballot in 2019. Murphy was on the BBWAA ballot 15 times and received a high of 116 votes (23.2%) in 2000. Mattingly received a high of 145 votes (28.2%) in the first of 15 appearances on the BBWAA ballot in 2001, and Belle appeared on two BBWAA ballots, receiving 40 votes (7.7%) in 2006 and 19 (3.5%) in 2007.

Players on Major League Baseball’s ineligible list cannot be considered, a rule that excludes Pete Rose.

This year’s BBWAA ballot includes Carlos Beltran, John Lackey and Jered Weaver among 14 newcomers and Scott Rolen, Todd Helton and Billy Wagner among holdovers.