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Blue Jays reliever Anthony Bass apologizes for sharing homophobic social media post

TORONTO — Anthony Bass wants to reassure Toronto Blue Jays fans that baseball is for everyone.
Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcher Anthony Bass gives a statement to media ahead of interleague baseball action against the Milwaukee Brewers in Toronto on Tuesday, May 30, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Chidley-Hill

TORONTO — Anthony Bass wants to reassure Toronto Blue Jays fans that baseball is for everyone.

The 35-year-old relief pitcher apologized on Tuesday a day after he shared an Instagram reel where a content creator made the "Biblical case" for why Christians should boycott Bud Light and Target after they openly supported the LGBTQ+ community. 

"I made a post that was hurtful to the Pride community, which includes friends of mine and close family members of mine and I'm truly sorry for that," Bass said to media outside the Blue Jays' dugout at Rogers Centre. "I just spoke with my teammates and shared with them my actions yesterday. I apologize with them and, as of right now, I'm using the Blue Jays' resources to better educate myself to make better decisions moving forward.

"The ballpark is for everybody. We include all fans at the ballpark and we want to welcome everybody."

Bass did not take questions from media after making the statement. Manager John Schneider took several questions from reporters on Bass's statement in his regularly scheduled pre-game media availability.

Schneider said that Bass originally apologized to him and general manager Ross Atkins and then, at Schneider's prompting, the reliever apologized to the entire team.

"I think him showing accountability was a really good thing. We want everyone to feel welcome here at the ballpark, obviously, and around the league," said Schneider in his office. "We as an organization are going to continue to do all the things we have done in the past with the Pride community. 

"It was a good thing that Anthony came in and realized what he did."

Bass's comments come days before Pride Month, a weeks-long celebration of Toronto's LGBTQ+ community, is set to begin. Rainbow decorations have already been set up around Union Station, the downtown transit hub less than a 10-minute walk from Rogers Centre.

The Blue Jays issued a statement earlier Tuesday that the controversy will not derail their message of inclusivity, especially in June.

"The Blue Jays bring millions of fans together across Canada and are committed to providing an inclusive and welcoming experience for all," reads the statement. "The Blue Jays are proud to celebrate LGBTQ2S+ Pride Month, including a special fourth annual Pride Weekend at the ballpark June 9 and 10, and demonstrations of allyship all month long around the ballpark. 

"Individual player sentiments are not representative of the club’s beliefs."

Pride Toronto executive director Sherwin Modeste said that he's still looking forward to working with the Blue Jays in June. 

"It is something that I strongly believe that they're committed to," said Modeste. "I do not think that one player and their views is going to stop the Jays and stop organizations like Pride Toronto and others from spreading love."

Modeste said that there has been an increase in hate towards the LGBTQ+ community this year across North America and, in that context, Bass's decision to share the homophobic video was not surprising.

"Often times folks will think this is happening in the U.S., it will never happen in Canada," said Modeste. "We have seen that hate. We've seen the hate towards the drag community. We've seen the hate increase towards the trans community. This is what we have been talking about."

Earlier this year, Bass sparked criticism when he tweeted to complain that a flight attendant had asked his pregnant wife to clean up popcorn their toddler spilled on the floor during a flight.

Bass has also pitched for San Diego, Houston, Texas, the Chicago Cubs, Seattle and Miami over his 12 years in Major League Baseball. He's 0-0 with a 4.50 earned-run average in 20 games this season.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 30, 2023.

John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press

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