Rays' Pride Night raises more than $300K for Pulse Victims Fund

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Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Tampa Bay Rays played before their biggest regular-season crowd in a decade Friday, when Tropicana Field hosted Pride Night, dedicated to the victims of Sunday's mass shooting in Orlando.

The announced attendance of 40,135 for the Rays' game against the San Francisco Giants was the first regular-season turnout of more than 40,000 at the ballpark since Opening Day in 2006 against Baltimore (40,199). Tampa Bay entered averaging 16,037 in home attendance this season, second lowest in the majors.

"The crowd was big, that's for sure," Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said. "I saw we raised so much money. That's great for all of the tragedy that's taken place over there over the last week."

The Rays on Tuesday made all available tickets $5, with 100 percent of the proceeds benefiting the Pulse Victims Fund. It was announced by the team that more than $300,000 was raised.

"It's just a tragedy what happened, and to see how people came together, united, and poured out their hearts for what happened in Orlando really made it a special night," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.

Said Rays starter Chris Archer, "I'm glad we were able to have that great of a crowd and the proceeds go to such a great cause."

Major League Baseball vice president of social responsibility and inclusion Billy Bean threw the ceremonial first pitch.

"I think today will be just a great moment if baseball can make everybody smile, enjoy a great baseball game, feel a little closer to one another," Bean said. "It's not specific to one person or another, or race or gender or color or sexual orientation or gender identity. It's about people feeling connected and supportive."

The Rays wore "We are Orlando" T-shirts during batting practice and the hats of their onetime Double-A team, the Orlando Rays, in the game.

The Giants won 5-1, moving their winning streak to six games.

Elsewhere Friday, theMiami Marlins held a moment of silence for the Orlando victims before their game against the Colorado Rockies. The Marlins will donate proceeds from a raffle on Friday and Saturday to the Florida Disaster Fund, benefiting organizations serving the survivors and their families.

The team also is holding a Pride at the Park event July 9, with proceeds from ticket packages for the event to be donated to the fund.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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