Local organizers for the 35th annual NAGAAA Gay Softball World Series have formally invited Chicago White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham and team owner Jerry Reinsdorf to the opening day of play in the six-day tournament, the Windy City Times has learned exclusively.
The World Series, hosted in Chicago for the first time since 1983, will attract over 4,000 athletes and fans from across the U.S. and Canada.
Opening Ceremony for the Gay Softball World Series is Monday night, August 29, at Navy Pier. The Chicago organizing committeeSeries 2011 - Chicago, Inc.sent an invitation to Beckham and Reinsdorf to attend play on Tuesday morning, August 30, in Schaumburg, one of three suburbs where the tournament will be held. The White Sox have a home game that night against Minnesota, starting at 7:10 p.m.
Beckham is the latest pro athlete to be caught in an anti-gay situation after playing in the dirtand getting busted.
Beckham, during a July 4 game at U.S. Cellular Field against the Kansas City Royals, left a message near his position for former teammate and friend Chris Getz, who plays for the Royals.
The message said: "GETZ IS GAY! GB"
Beckham has apologized for jokingly writing the message.
Local organizers for the softball Series invited Beckham to the multi-field complex in Schaumburg. Organizers would like Beckham and Reinsdorf to throw out Ceremonial First Pitches.
"We'd like to use this negative, unfortunate situation to help educate Beckham and others about the gay community and specifically the gay sports community," said Ted Cappas, president of Series 2011 - Chicago, Inc.
"We're quite sure Gordon and Mr. Reinsdorf will be impressed with the level of play and sportsmanship in all five divisions of the World Series and, most important, we hope Gordon and others can be educated that gay men and women are just like everyone else and, yes, they play sports, too."
Chicago, in fact, has the largest gay softball league in the nation. Run by the predominantly gay Chicago Metropolitan Sports Association ( CMSA ) , its open division softball league features almost 50 teams in eight divisions, based on player's skill level.
The message Beckham left for Getz was first reported by the Chicago Sun-Times, and was the lead sports story in the paper's Sunday edition.
Getz was traded by the White Sox along with Josh Fields to the Royals in November, 2009. The White Sox acquired Mark Teahen in the deal.
"Obviously I apologize and kind of want to move on. Obviously it was meant as a joke, but obviously it was in the wrong place and I didn't mean it that way. I will just try to move on," Beckham told reporters before the White Sox played the Twins on Saturday.
"It's one of those things that was unfortunate that happened and I want to try to move on from it."
Beckham's message was talked about extensively on Sunday, July 10, during CMSA softball action.
"It's unfortunate and seems to be a recurring theme in professional sportsand proves that there still is a lot of homophobia in professional sports. It's time for ownership and management to condemn these actions. This is the second player of Mr. Reinsdorf's to use a gay slur," Cappas said. Joakim Noah of the Chicago Bulls made an anti-gay comment this spring.
Jack Neilsen, also a member of the local organizing committee for the upcoming Gay Softball World Series, added: "I'm extremely disappointed [ to hear what happened ] and truly hope he is sorry for his actions, and that his superiors step up to the plate and enforce whatever punishment they deem necessary."
The Chicago Cubs are a sponsor and partner for the Series, though the White Sox declined similar opportunities to partner with the Series, Cappas said.
The Cubs, in fact, will honor two representatives of each of the five division winners from the Series on Sunday, Sept. 4, with an on-field recognition ceremony.