Anthony Bass was scheduled to catch Friday night’s ceremonial first pitch from leZlie Lee Kam, a longtime Toronto-area activist
Update: On Friday, the day he was scheduled to catch a ceremonial first pitch as part of the Toronto Blue Jays' celebration of Pride Weekend, the team designated relief pitcher Anthony Bass for assignment, meaning he has been released from the team's 40-man roster. Bass was released after the publication of this article amid controversy surrounding an anti-LGBTQ post he shared on Instagram.
Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcher Anthony Bass will participate in the ceremonial first pitch for Pride Weekend, days after reposting an anti-LGBTQ video on Instagram.
Bass, 35, who was booed by his own fans in his first appearance on the mound last week after promoting the video, will catch Friday night’s pitch from leZlie Lee Kam, a longtime Toronto-area activist, according to the Toronto Sun.
Bass reposted a video that praised the boycotting of Bud Light and Target for their measures supporting the LGBTQ community. The video referred to selling Pride-themed merchandise as "evil" and "demonic," according to ESPN.com.
On Thursday, the pitcher told reporters before the team’s final game in a series at Houston that “the video reflected my [Christian] beliefs,” but that he has had a “productive meeting” with Sherwin Modeste, the executive director of Pride Toronto.
“The video itself, obviously, I took it down,” Bass said, according to The Athletic. “I just felt like it was too much of a distraction, right? But I stand by my personal beliefs and everyone’s entitled to their personal beliefs, right? But also I mean no harm toward any groups of people. And I felt like taking that down the second time was the right thing to do and not being a distraction. As a team, our job is to win baseball games. And that’s my focus.”
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Bass, who has a 4.95 ERA in 22 appearances this season, was not disciplined for his social media actions, Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said.
“That was the most significant piece is that he was accountable,” Atkins said. “He wanted to apologize, not just to me, which was very important, but more importantly to our community and this community. Without that, as I said, we’d have a very different outcome. And then I think the willingness to do something about it, being paramount and seeing that step taken is a good first step.”
Many Toronto fans on social media have been less enthusiastic about Bass’ scheduled appearance Friday.
“This is an epic failure in PR,” wrote one, in response to a post by MLB.com writer Keegan Matheson announcing the Blue Jays' plans to have Bass participate in Pride Weekend. “Rehabbing an image takes heartfelt apology, contrition & a full attempt to lead and make things right. Having Bass catch the first pitch is such a terrible image, I can’t quite believe they think this is wise.”
Meanwhile, another wrote: “Is the first pitch ceremony where every fan gets a baseball and throws it at Anthony Bass?”
On Thursday, Bass apologized again, but still did not disavow the substance of the video he reposed.
“I guess not being sensitive to obviously what that community goes through. Especially when they make such a big decision with their life,” he said, referring to the decision to come out. “And that’s something that I do apologize for because I have no ill intentions of ever being hateful or harmful towards any group. I care for all people and I stand by that.”
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