The San Diego Padres apologized to a gay choir, whose members said they were humiliated following a bungled performance of the national anthem before a game.
The San Diego Gay Men's Chorus was brought in to sing "The Star Spangled Banner" before the team's matchup against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Petco Park on Saturday. A recording of the choir was supposed to play over the loudspeakers, but a recording of a woman singing the anthem sounded instead, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported.
"No attempt was made to stop the recording and start over," the chorus wrote on its Facebook page on Sunday. "No announcement of apology was made to the singers or their friends and families in the stands."
The chorus said it then suffered homophobic abuse from fans as the singers were escorted from the field.
The choir said the incident raised "serious questions about homophobia within the San Diego Padres organization and its relationship with the LGBT community." The choir claimed the incident followed "several days of troubling comments and behavior" from within the baseball team, which tried to prevent the singers from performing unless they each bought a ticket to the game. That decision was later overturned.
"I really want to believe that it was an error," Bob Lehman, the choir's executive director, told the Union-Tribune about Saturday night's incident. "But the first thought was, did they do this on purpose?"
The Padres initially apologized via a short, two-sentence statement. Cause was attributed to "a mistake made in the Petco Park control room."
"We apologize to anyone in the ballpark who this may have offended, and have reached out to the Chorus to express our deep regret for the error," the team added.
The chorus was disappointed with the short apology so the Padres issued a second statement that said it had investigated and found "no evidence of malicious intent on the part of any individuals involved."
The team added that the third-party contractor responsible for the error had been dismissed, and disciplinary action was being taken against the staff member responsible for the game production.
"The Padres organization is proud of our longstanding commitment to inclusion -- within both our sport and our community," the team stated. "We deeply regret that a mistake on our part has called this into question, but accept full responsibility."
The choir is now calling on the San Diego city attorney's office and the San Diego human relations commission to investigate the incident. Meanwhile, the singers have received hundreds of messages of support, including this musical tribute from the Chicago Gay Men's Chorus: