Minor-league team defends adding 'Blue Lives Matter' flag to uniforms

A minor league affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles was seen wearing a “Blue Lives Matter” flag patch sewed onto their uniforms Wednesday, but the team’s general manager is saying that it is not meant to be a political statement.

In fact, the team is now apparently in its fourth season wearing the flag.

Why the Aberdeen IronBirds are wearing a Blue Lives Matter patch

The patch was first noticed on the Aberdeen IronBirds’ uniforms Tuesday, when a Twitter user snapped a photo of the flag on the back of one player.

IronBirds general manager Matt Slatus told the Baltimore Sun that the team adopted the patch on their home uniforms shortly after local sheriff’s deputies Patrick Dailey and Mark Logsdon were shot and killed in a local restaurant by David Brian Evans, who is white.

An IronBirds PR official confirmed to Yahoo Sports that the team had worn the flag uninterrupted since 2016, “with enormous community support.”

Slatus also reportedly said that Dailey and Logsdon’s badge numbers had been added to the wall of the visiting clubhouse and the numbers had been retired by the team as a jersey number, joining the Ripken family and Jackie Robinson.

The Aberdeen Ironbirds say they have worn a Blue Lives Matter flag patch on their uniforms since 2016. (Photo via IronBirds PR)
The Aberdeen Ironbirds say they have worn a Blue Lives Matter flag patch on their uniforms since 2016. (Photo via IronBirds PR)

The Blue Lives Matter flag and the movement it represents has drawn fire in the past with the NHL’s Pittsburgh Pirates causing a stir after prominently displaying the flag during a ceremony. Despite that, Slatus said the flag is not a political statement.

From the Sun:

“We are not a political organization by any means,” he said. “We’re here to provide affordable family fun and entertainment to the Upper Chesapeake region. We’re here to develop baseball players and make sure that, most importantly, people come out to the ballpark and have a great time.

"This is not a political discussion, it’s not a political point. We continue to honor and recognize the memory of the two deputies who tragically – while trying to protect the region – lost their lives in Harford County.”

Of course, regardless of the team’s intent as an apolitical message, the Blue Lives Matter flag has become an unmistakably political symbol, coming to prominence opposite the Black Lives Matter movement.

While proponents of the movement frequently describe it as a way to support and honor police officers, the NAACP said in 2018 it appeared to be “a political response to the growing national movement for police accountability in the face of continued killings and assaults of unarmed African Americans.”

More from Yahoo Sports:

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