NEW YORK (AP) — Monument Park has a new addition that celebrates diversity.
A plaque behind the center field fence at Yankee Stadium was dedicated Tuesday night to commemorate the Stonewall Inn uprising 50 years ago, which sparked a pivotal rebellion in the LGBTQ rights movement.
The marker was unveiled before New York played the Toronto Blue Jays. It is located on a wall alongside tablets honoring Jackie Robinson and Nelson Mandela for their work fighting prejudice, breaking barriers and creating equality.
“It’s incredible. It means everything. It really symbolizes human rights,” said Stacy Lentz, co-owner of the Stonewall Inn and CEO of Stonewall Gives Back Initiative. “Stonewall Inn is part of that human rights story, but it is overwhelming to see it next to Jackie Robinson and Nelson Mandela.”
Steps away sit monuments and plaques that salute Yankees greats from Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig to Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera.
New York pitchers CC Sabathia and Dellin Betances, along with general manager Brian Cashman, were on hand for the ceremony.
“We were surprised. It was a total and complete shock,” Lentz said. “They said it was hard for them to keep a secret from us because we’ve worked with them for a while.”
“We can’t thank the Yankees enough. They’ve been incredible, authentic partners. They’ve gone beyond pride night,” she said. “They understand that having a permanent fixture when fans come here, LGBTQ fans are going to feel safe and welcome, and visibility saves lives. So it’s just incredible to partner with them. We are just humbled and honored to accept this on behalf of the entire community and everyone who came before us to make this happen.”
In the wee hours of June 28, 1969, a police raid of the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City’s Greenwich Village, gave rise to a series of riots that fueled the LGBT rights movement.
The Yankees celebrated the 50th anniversary and “New York’s legacy of pride” on Tuesday night with ceremonies that also highlighted the team’s Yankees-Stonewall Scholars Initiative.
Before the game, manager Aaron Boone was asked about the significance of the event.
“Inclusion, ultimately. You wear this uniform, you work for this organization, it carries a lot of weight and I think it’s important that as an organization we welcome everyone not only to work for this franchise, but from a fan base. We want people from all walks of life to feel like this is a place that they can come and feel comfortable, feel safe, feel good about Yankee Stadium and the Yankees as an organization,” he said.
“You walk through our clubhouse and you see people from all kinds of walks of life and I feel like we’re stronger because of that, and this is a night that I think honors that. As I talk with our players sometimes: ‘Love somebody that’s different from you.’ I think that’s important and the more people, the more walks of life that we can get involved with this great organization, the better.”
AP freelance writer Larry Fleisher contributed to this report.