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NEW YORK (AP) – That baseball hazing ritual of dressing up rookies as Wonder Woman, Hooters Girls and Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders is now banned.
Major League Baseball created an Anti-Hazing and Anti-Bullying Policy that covers the practice. As part of the sport’s new labor deal, set to be ratified by both sides Tuesday, the players’ union agreed not to contest it.
The policy, obtained by The Associated Press, prohibits “requiring, coercing or encouraging” players from “dressing up as women or wearing costumes that may be offensive to individuals based on their race, sex, nationality, age, sexual orientation, gender identify or other characteristic.”
MLB Vice President Paul Mifsud said Monday the new rules resulted partly “in light of social media, which in our view sort of unfortunately publicized a lot of the dressing up of the players … those kind of things which in our view were insensitive and potentially offensive to a number of groups.”
“There’s lots of pictures of baseball players dressed up as Disney princesses,” he said.
Or even more outlandish, often for late-season plane trips.
Bryce Harper as a member of the US Olympic women’s gymnastics team, Mike Trout as Lady Gaga. Manny Machado in a ballet tutu, Carlos Correa as Wonder Woman.
All out starting next season.
“Although it hasn’t happened, you could sort of see how like someone might even dress up in black face and say, ‘Oh, no, we were just dressing up,’” Mifsud said. “We’ve also understood that a number of players have complained about it.”
Exactly when the annual dress-up day began around the majors isn’t quite clear. Players often considered it a form of bonding, and it’s become more of a production in recent years.
Chase Headley and San Diego Padres newcomers wore the skimpy, shiny orange shorts and tight, white tops of Hooters servers for a September 2008 flight from Denver to Washington.
“Times have changed. There is certain conduct that we have to be conscious of,” union general counsel Dave Prouty said.
“The important thing for us was to recognize there was a policy but to preserve the players’ rights to challenge the level of discipline and the imposition of discipline,” he said.
Not all outfits are banned – superheroes such as Batman and Spider-Man are OK.
Other past costumes that would be allowed include San Francisco ace Madison Bumgarner as a giant ketchup bottle, Miami slugger Giancarlo Stanton on the US Olympic men’s water polo team and Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig as Gumby.
The issue of locker room bullying erupted a few years ago when an NFL investigation found Richie Incognito and two other Miami Dolphins engaged in persistent harassment toward teammate Jonathan Martin.
MLB looked at several college anti-hazing policies while developing these new rules, and they are already being criticized by some current and former players.
“Seriously?!” former Red Sox star Kevin Youkilis wrote on Twitter. “Had to wear a Hooters outfit going through customs in Toronto and wore it proudly (because) I was in the Show.”