A Utah minor league baseball team apologized for a controversial ad that drew fire on social media for its "disgusting" and "offensive" display of women.
The Ogden Raptors, a minor league baseball team from the Pioneer League, originially announced an “Hourglass Appreciation Night” on Friday, Aug. 11, at Lindquist Field in Ogden.
The press release for the night included a cartoon image of women in bikinis.
Ogden Raptors President Dave Baggott said in a statement that the press release was "unauthorized" and "not approved or scheduled" by the team to be released.
"This promotion will not take place, and steps have been put in place to ensure this will not happen again," Baggott said in a statement. "The Ogden Raptors offer a sincere apology to anyone who was offended by the promotion itself and the contents of the press release, and in no way supports or condones the objectification of women. It is not reflective of the values of the Ogden Raptors, Los Angeles Dodgers organization, the Pioneer Baseball League or Minor League Baseball.”
The Raptors launched the event because August is the eighth month of the year and the number “8” looks like an hourglass, according to a MILB.com article that has since been deleted.
“Since August is the eighth month of the calendar year, and an 8 looks tantalizingly similar to an hourglass, be there a better way to remind the world that baseball needs no clock than to feature 18 hourglass-shaped color commentators?”
Social media users went off on the decision, calling it creepy and “disgusting,” according to The Comeback.
National news outlets also wrote about the controversy. Mary Craig of Beyond the Box Score wrote in a lengthy piece — called “There is no rest for sexism in baseball” — that the flaws in the promotion are clear, and it’s unfortunate that no one saw them before it went live
“And we are now faced with the same tired issue of how women fit into baseball,” she wrote. “For many executives, we are uninterested bystanders who might open up our wallets to purchase a pink shirt or hat with which to impress our significant others. For others, we are objects that can be used to draw men to games. Rarely are we legitimate fans on the same level as men. And that’s a huge problem for professional baseball.”
Minor League Baseball likes to promote itself in odd ways, though. Bill Bear of Pro Baseball Talk wrote that minor league teams consistently try to market to stereotypes, hosting events like “Pink Night” or “Baseball 101."
In fact, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen this in Utah. As Deseret News reported, the Orem Owlz canceled their planned “Caucasian Heritage Night” after the team realized it probably wasn’t a good idea.
The team’s media director also resigned over the issue, according to DeadSpin.
“Minor League Baseball and the Orem Owlz is about baseball, togetherness and family fun for all fans of all races, religions and orientations. Our goal in this promotion, like any of our promotions, is to have fun and make fun of everyday normalcies,” the Owlz said. “Our night was to include Wonder Bread on burgers with mayonnaise, clips from shows like ‘Friends’ and ‘Seinfeld’ and trying to solve the vertical leaping challenge.”
But executives failed to see why the recent Raptors promotion was such a problem for women, wrote Andrew Bucholz of The Comeback. It’s a consistent problem seen throughout sports, he said, and one that needs to be fixed.
“Executives need to realize that they should be marketing to female fans as well as male ones, and that ideas like this one in particular are going to hurt their brands more than help them,” he wrote. “Maybe the next time someone comes up with an idea like this, they’ll think twice before releasing it to the world. Then they won’t have to recant later.”