For the first decade of Greg Bader’s career with the Orioles, he led two lives.

The first was one he had dreamt of since he was 12, growing up in Baltimore hoping to one day work for his favorite Major League Baseball team. The second was his personal life — a gay man unsure whether a sports franchise would accept him for who he is, should he come out at work.

“At that period of time, from the mid-’90s to the mid-2000s, I was thinking, ‘This is the way it’s going to be. You chose a career in sports,’” Bader said.

But a wedding invitation changed everything. Monica Barlow, then the Orioles’ public relations director, wanted Bader to attend. She also wanted Bader’s partner, John, to join. Bader hadn’t realized anyone with the Orioles knew he was gay, but Barlow and others didn’t blink.

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“It wasn’t an issue,” Bader said.

A few days after receiving the wedding invitation in 2008 from the late Barlow, Bader came out to his work colleagues. There had been trepidation leading up to it, but what Bader experienced then — and has continued to experience since with the Orioles, now as Baltimore’s executive vice president and chief operations officer — was acceptance.

His two lives merged into one.

On Thursday night, when the gates open and fans receive an Orioles jersey with rainbows on the sides and rainbow-hued lettering on Pride Night, Bader hopes others will experience what he has long felt from the Orioles.

“We want to be sure that for any member of the LGBTQ+ community that wants to be an Orioles fan, that is an Orioles fan but is afraid to come out, or otherwise isn’t sure if they’re welcome to be a member of the fan base and to be at the ballpark, days like Pride Night I hope are the indicator that this is the place for you,” Bader said. “We want you here. And we want this to be a place that feels welcoming — not just on Pride Night but for all 81 games.”

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When the Orioles hosted their first Pride Night event in 2018, much had changed publicly in the decade since Bader had come out to his coworkers. An event of that sort, showing pride at a baseball stadium, wasn’t “something I would have even fathomed would happen” in 2008, Bader said.

But, once the event took place, there was ample support. They’ve continued it each year, and every year Pride Night grows in popularity. Smaller items, such as Pride flags and towels, began to be stadium-wide giveaways. Now the first 10,000 fans will receive the Pride jersey, a premium giveaway that will join the rainbow flags displayed around Camden Yards.

“We have progressed to a point where people are looking for it and celebrating inclusiveness,” Bader said. “The Orioles are for them, and Oriole Park welcomes them.”

But Bader and others don’t want Pride Night to morph into something performative.

That’s why last season the Orioles decided to couple their on-field Pride Night visibility with a public-service approach on social media. During the game, the team’s official X account posted information and resources about and for the LGBTQ+ community rather than score updates.

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Baltimore doesn’t plan to tweet in the same way Thursday, but the event will be visible online, on television and at the park.

“This was not an event we were doing to try to sell some tickets and check a box,” Bader said. “This was something we actually wanted to embrace as an organization and demonstrate our values of inclusiveness.”

Bader remains one of a small number of openly gay executives for a major American sports organization. The fact somewhat surprises him, considering how welcomed he was by the former ownership of the Angelos family, his colleagues and David Rubenstein and the rest of the new ownership group.

“I don’t think my younger self, looking for a career in baseball, could have ever anticipated the acceptance and love that I feel to be a part of the organization,” Bader said.

By being himself, Bader rose from an intern to a top executive in baseball. Events such as Pride Night help celebrate the inclusiveness that he experienced and he hopes his path might inspire.

Maybe someone else, dreaming of a career in sports, won’t need to carry on two lives, either.