The Yankees and the Rays walk away from the game to discuss gun violence

On Thursday, baseball teams of the Tampa Bay Rays and the New York Yankees took the unusual step of transforming their Twitter accounts to spread facts about gun violence in the wake of the recent mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde, Texas.

Instead of showing information on throwing performances or last home runs distances, both teams’ Twitter feeds presented facts about gun violence during the course of their match in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Rays communications staff members led the fact-finding and fact-checking effort, an initiative assisted by Jason Zillo, vice president of communications for the Yankees, who was in St. Petersburg for the four-game series, along with other members of the Yankees communications team. Each fact was followed by a quote.

“There are things that are bigger than baseball,” said Mr. Zillo. “It is good that we can use our platform to share facts that are important to everyone, regardless of who you support or if you are a sports fan.”

The Yankees Twitter account has 3.6 million followers. The Rays have about 650,000. The teams also posted the facts on their Instagram Stories. The Yankees have 2.9 million followers on that platform, while the Rays have 430,000.

One article found that firearms were the leading cause of death for American children and teens in 2020, according to a study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Another pointed out that about 12 veterans a day die from suicide by firearm, according to a study published by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.

The Rays, whose team colors are blue and white, have changed the background banner of their Twitter account to orange, which is often used for awareness and prevention of gun violence, with a banner that read “End Gun Violence” . Brooks Raley, pitcher of the Rays, he attended the school of Uvalde where the shooting took place.

The Rays said they donated $ 50,000 to Everytown for Gun Safety, an organization that promotes the prevention of gun violence, and said they were working with the group to “amplify the facts about gun violence in America.”

“The most recent mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde have rocked us to the core,” the Rays said in a statement on their feed. “The Tampa Bay Rays are mourning the heartbreaking tragedies that took the lives of innocent children and adults.”

Twenty-one people, including 19 children, were killed on Tuesday by a gunman in an elementary school in Uvalde. It happened less than two weeks after a gunman in Buffalo killed 10 people in a supermarket in a racist attack.

Zillo said the Yankees will expand their anti-gun violence efforts during their next homestand, which is expected to begin on Tuesday, specifically to address gun violence in the Bronx, where the team plays.

“As citizens of the world, it is difficult to process these shootings and return to normal routine,” Zillo added in a text message. “For one night, we wanted to reflect and draw attention to statistics that have much more meaning and weight than the batting average.”

An hour after the Yankees first posted that they would post messages about gun violence rather than game details, the item had over 70,000 likes, which Zillo said was among the top rate for any post.

The Yankees have taken steps to deal with mass shootings in the past, led by then-owner George Steinbrenner, the patriarch of the family that still owns the team, which is run by his son, Hal Steinbrenner. In 2007, the Steinbrenners donated $ 1 million to a Virginia Tech University memorial fund after a mass shooting there, and the following year the Yankees played an exhibition game on the school campus in Blacksburg, Virginia.

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