Padres apologize following Pride Night mix-up

SAN DIEGO -- The Padres have apologized for a mistake during the national anthem on Saturday, which caused a recording of a woman singing to play over the San Diego Gay Men's Chorus. Following an internal investigation, the club also announced the termination of its relationship with the contractor responsible for the error, while taking disciplinary action against the team employee who was responsible for that night's game production.

Saturday's game against the Dodgers was "Pride Night" at Petco Park, and the club had invited 100 members of the chorus to perform the anthem. But just before the group was set to sing, the stadium's speaker system played a recording instead.

The incident prompted a reaction from the Gay Men's Chorus, as it called for an investigation into the origins of the mishap "to determine if someone or some people intentionally engaged in anti-gay discrimination or a hate crime by playing a female's voice to represent a group of gay men with the purpose of denigrating and/or ridiculing gay men."

In a statement Sunday night, the Padres announced: "After a thorough examination of the events that occurred during last night's national anthem, we have concluded our internal investigation and have found no evidence of malicious intent on the part of any individuals involved."

Nonetheless, the club also announced the termination of the contract with the party responsible and discipline for a team employee, though the extent of the discipline was not revealed.

In the statement, the Padres apologized for the second time in as many days. They also did so in a brief statement Saturday night, before conducting the investigation.

"We once again sincerely apologize to members of the San Diego Gay Men's Chorus, their families and those who came out to support their Pride Night performance," Sunday's statement read. "The Padres' organization is proud of our longstanding commitment to inclusion -- within both our sport and our community. We deeply regret that a mistake on our part has called this into question, but accept full responsibility."

Major League Baseball will conduct an investigation into the incident, USA Today reported on Monday.

A spokesperson for the club said the Padres had already reached out to the Gay Men's Chorus to perform a future national anthem, but they said they hadn't received a response as of Sunday afternoon. The spokesperson also confirmed that the chorus has performed the anthem at Petco Park several times in the past.

On Twitter, Billy Bean, who serves as MLB's vice president of social responsibility and inclusion, expressed his disappointment with the technical error, ultimately backing the Padres.

"I want to convey that my former team, the San Diego Padres, has supported our inclusion message at MLB without hesitation even before my return to baseball in 2014," Bean said on Twitter. "I'm so proud of the Padres' organization for hosting an LGBT Pride event during the season, and I would hope that the community recognizes that error and intent are not related."

Bean said he's been invited numerous times by the Padres to speak with players and employees, and that he's also worked closely with owner Ron Fowler and team president Mike Dee.

In its statement, the chorus applauded Dee for reaching out to apologize and offering to meet with LGBT leaders to discuss the incident. But it called into question the Padres' insistence that singers buy a ticket for the game -- even if they did not plan to attend. According to a spokesperson, that's typically the club's protocol for anthems sung by large groups.

As for the Padres' decision to terminate the contract of the party responsible, they said that was "based both on the unintentional mistake that was made, as well as the failure to immediately intervene and correct the situation."

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.