Metro Weekly

Night OUT at the Nationals Sets Ticket Sales Record

The 19th Annual event, which featured a guest appearance by Bianca Del Rio, raised nearly $35,000 for Team DC.

Bianca Del Rio (center) with Team DC board members and two recipients of its college scholarship – Photo: John Riley

Night OUT at the Nationals, the annual Pride-themed game celebrating the Washington Nationals’ LGBTQ fan base, set a new sales record this year, with nearly 7,500 tickets sold.

Team DC, the local umbrella organization for LGBTQ sports leagues in the D.C. area, partners with the Nationals organization to promote and carry out the annual event.

The organization had been selling the specialty Pride night tickets online and promoting the event for weeks in the run-up to the June 6 matchup between the Nationals and the Atlanta Braves.

According to the Nationals, the number of specialty tickets was above 7,000 and below 7,500. Since $5 of every specialty Night OUT ticket purchased benefits Team DC, that means that Night OUT raised an estimated $35,000 for the LGBTQ sports organization. 

Total attendance at Nationals Park for the night was 27,690 — above the average attendance of 24,000 for regular-season games — indicating a strong turnout and assuaging the fears of those who fret about a possible financial backlash against sports franchises hosting Pride nights. 

Yet, despite the robust turnout from D.C.’s LGBTQ community, the Nationals ultimately fell to the Braves, 5-2. 

This year’s Night OUT event featured a ceremonial first pitch thrown by standup comic and former RuPaul’s Drag Race winner Bianca Del Rio. She threw the ball to Screech, the Nationals’ eagle mascot, who was clad in a rainbow-colored jersey. The entire ballpark was also decked out in rainbow-colored decorations. 

The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington DC performed the national anthem ahead of the game, and the lineup card was delivered by Team DC College Scholarship Program recipients Kai McFadgion and AJ Ingson.

Duplex Diner general manager Kelly Lazcko, Team DC’s Community Support Champion awardee, gave the official “Play Ball” announcement to kick off the game. 

The Nats’ “Racing Presidents” — four plushy mascots bearing the likenesses of Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Teddy Roosevelt who take part in a foot race in the middle of the fourth inning of every home game — participated in a specially themed race.

Prior to the game, DC’s Different Drummers put on a musical performance, playing several pop hits as part of their repertoire. The group’s Color Guard staged a lively routine with white plastic rifles while the marching band played behind them. 

The longstanding Night OUT event, which will celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2025, is the first and longest-running Pride night in Major League Baseball. 

“We’re very proud as an organization that we have longest running night out, of all Major League Baseball clubs,” Betsy Philpott, senior vice president and general counsel for the Nationals, told Metro Weekly. “And the other big statistic, internally, that we’re proud of is Night OUT is one of, if not the best of our group night sales that we have all year.”

Philpott attributes the continued success of the event — held annually since 2005 — to the Nationals’ efforts to engage with local community groups for a number of various theme nights. In addition to a Pride-themed night, the National host other specialty nights for other groups or causes, including civic and faith-based groups, special nights for various university alumni communities, and pet owners.

Philpott said there’s been no anti-LGBTQ pushback against Night OUT or the organization’s diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.

“The management team here is very accepting of lots of different views,” Philpott said. “We’re excited for World Pride 2025 and the opportunities that we’ll have, not only just as employees, but what could happen for the city and also for the Washington Nationals. … [T]here’s not any pushback on our initiatives. In fact, we’re moving in the direction of trying to grow them.”

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