TORONTO – Beginning to match actions to his words, Kevin Pillar selected PFLAG and You Can Play’s Toronto branch to receive the salary he forfeited during a two-game suspension for using a homophobic slur.
The Toronto Blue Jays centre-fielder also caught the ceremonial first pitch from Michelle Cherny, a member of Pride Toronto’s board of directors, before Thursday night’s 12-2 pounding from the New York Yankees, as he works to make amends with those he offended.
"It’s not lip service," he said. "It’s easy to come out and make your apologies and hope people forget but I meant what I said when I said hopefully I’ll be made an example of."
Pillar was suspended by the Blue Jays, in conjunction with Major League Baseball and the players union, last month for uttering the slur at Atlanta Braves reliever Jason Motte during a heated on-field confrontation. He apologized the next day and the sides have been working through where to donate his garnished pay.
PFLAG is an advocacy and support group for the LGBTQ community, and will also conduct sensitivity training sessions for Pillar. You Can Play seeks to make sports safe and open for athletes regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and their work really appealed to Pillar.
"I’ve seen the impact of a similar organization in Challenger Baseball for people with disabilities and the impact baseball can have on them," said Pillar. "Hopefully my contributions will help this organization with kids in all walks of life (so they can) feel like they’re included to play."
Long before the incident in Atlanta, the Blue Jays planned to have someone from Pride Toronto throw out the first pitch Thursday to recognize the start of Pride Month. When the team asked if he wanted to catch Cherny’s pitch, he gladly said yes.
"There are still some things that are going to be done," he said. "My actions didn’t just affect me, they affected this organization as well and between me and the organization, we’re going to do our part."