July 4, 2009

Ball club takes flak for ‘ball-less’ promo

A minor-league baseball team affiliated with Florida's Tampa Bay Rays has caught government flak for a promotion called Ball-less Baseball honoring women.

The Hudson Valley (N.Y.) Renegades promotion, set for Tuesday, is to have women only in Dutchess Stadium until the fifth inning as a celebration of femininity and independence, the New York-Penn League team said.

Men would remain outside, entertained with a parking-lot tailgating party, with the game televised on big-screen televisions, the team's promo said.

Dutchess County Senior Assistant County Attorney Keith Byron wrote to the team, saying the event's name was in poor taste.

He also said female-only access might violate state human rights law and the U.S. Constitution's 14th Amendment's equal protection clause.

Dutchess County cannot in good conscience remain silent while its citizens are subject to invidious gender discrimination, he wrote.

The county owns the 4,500-seat stadium in Fishkill, N.Y.

The New York Lottery also pulled out as an event sponsor. Spokeswoman Jennifer Givens told the Kingston (N.Y.) Daily Freeman it did not want to sponsor an event that was exclusionary in nature.

Team owner Jeff Goldklang told the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times the team was only trying to have a little fun, create a unique kind of Ladies Night and poke a little fun at the political correctness that's taken over.

He said men will be allowed in if they want and boys will be let in with their mothers.

He also defended the promotion's ball-less title, which critics see as a reference to women not having testicles, telling the Freeman the name was a baseball reference and any sexual connotation was fortunately or unfortunately coincidental.