For Them, It Was Love and Baseball

Erik Braverman and Jonathan Cottrell’s wedding at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, where Mr. Braverman works as a senior vice president for the Los Angeles Dodgers, was a celebration of love. Also of progress.

“We knew it would mean a lot to a lot of people,” Mr. Cottrell said, including the 75 vaccinated guests who watched as the couple said “I do” on the pitcher’s mound, but also countless others who have witnessed members of the L.G.B.T.Q. community struggle to find acceptance in professional baseball and other sports.

Mr. Braverman, 51, and Mr. Cottrell, 31, met in November 2019 at Mantamar Beach Club, an oceanfront bar and restaurant in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Both were on vacation: Mr. Braverman from his job with the Dodgers and Mr. Cottrell from his as a software engineer at Google in Mountain View, Calif. “We happened to be at the same swim-up bar, sipping piña coladas,” Mr. Braverman said. “We gravitated toward each other.”

After Mr. Braverman returned home to Los Angeles and Mr. Cottrell to San Francisco, the gravitational pull didn’t let up. By the end of the year, Mr. Cottrell was flying to visit Mr. Braverman every weekend. Both had acknowledged they were in love. That Mr. Cottrell didn’t care much for sports wasn’t an issue, Mr. Cottrell said.

“When I asked what he did and he told me he worked for the Dodgers, I said, ‘I’m pretty sure that’s baseball, right?’” Mr. Cottrell said. Mr. Braverman, who had been on dates where his connection to the organization felt like the main attraction, was charmed. “I loved it,” he said.

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In February 2020, Mr. Cottrell, who is also a model, left his job at Google and bought a condo in Mr. Braverman’s building in West Hollywood, Calif. Mr. Braverman was at first reluctant about that decision, Mr. Cottrell said.

“He was like, I don’t want you to change your life just for me,” Mr. Cottrell said. “But I felt like I was moving toward my forever.”

The pandemic, which hit Los Angeles a month later, accelerated their romance. Mr. Cottrell had by then begun working at home as a software engineer at Zynq, an office management company in San Francisco of which his brother, David Cottrell, is a founder. Mr. Braverman was a floor away, working for the Dodgers. They met daily for lunch and dinner. “It allowed us to really grow our relationship,” Mr. Braverman said.

By the spring of 2020, Mr. Cottrell had started thinking about marriage. That May, in the early months of the pandemic and on their six-month anniversary, he tucked two rings into a picnic basket and showed them to Mr. Braverman during a “socially distanced” picnic at Dodger Stadium (they had the place to themselves). “He said, ‘I’m not proposing, I just feel like we’re headed down the right path, and when the time is right, we’ll know it,’” Mr. Braverman said.

Mr. Cottrell knew Mr. Braverman had cause to be sensitive about timing. He had been with the Dodgers seven years in 2015 when his boss, Lon Rosen, the team’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer, encouraged him to come out to his colleagues.

Major League Baseball “was not known for being inclusive when I accepted my job,” Mr. Braverman said. “It had been a concern to me.” But the Dodgers franchise, he found, had come a long way in its relationship with the L.G.B.T.Q. community since two women were ejected from its stadium for kissing in the stands in 2000. “Everyone from the ownership down embraced and supported me,” he said.

After Mr. Braverman officially proposed on Aug. 13, 2021, Mr. Rosen told him the Dodgers would be honored to host the wedding. On Jan. 21, David Cottrell, ordained a Universal Life Church minister, married the couple in a ceremony brimming with what Mr. Cottrell called “bad baseball puns.”

“For example,” Mr. Cottrell said, “I said we had curveballs thrown at us.”

Of the wedding, Mr. Braverman said, “to be able to come to the venue where I thought I would have to hide my identity, and to be able to actually celebrate marrying the man I love here” was surreal. “I never envisioned this day would happen,” he said.