Kapler and some of his players took a knee in support of Black Lives Matter before the team’s 6-2 exhibition game victory over the host Oakland Athletics. The shortened regular season starts Thursday as baseball attempts a comeback amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Kapler made the team aware of his plans before the game, ESPN noted.
“I wanted them to know that I wasn’t pleased with the way our country has handled police brutality, and I told them I wanted to amplify their voices and I wanted to amplify the voice of the Black community and marginalized communities as well,” Kapler said.
Kapler continued: “So I told them that I wanted to use my platform to demonstrate my dissatisfaction with the way we’ve handled racism in our country. I wanted to demonstrate my dissatisfaction with our clear systemic racism in our country, and I wanted them to know that they got to make their own decisions, and we would respect and support those decisions. I wanted them to feel safe in speaking up.”
USA Today wrote that Kapler “is not only the first MLB manager to kneel during the national anthem, but he also is believed to be the first head coach in any of the four major North American sports leagues to protest racial injustice in that manner.” It is apparently the first time MLB players have kneeled in protest since Bruce Maxwell in 2017, the newspaper added.
Another Bay Area sports figure, ex-49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, popularized the kneeling gesture in 2016 to protest racial injustice and police brutality ― and it has rankled Donald Trump since.
The president chimed in on Monday’s demonstration, tweeting Tuesday morning: “Any time I witness a player kneeling during the National Anthem, a sign of great disrespect for our Country and our Flag, the game is over for me!”
As many of the major sports attempt to return for the first time since the outbreak, which was also marked by national unrest following the police killing of George Floyd, the controversy will likely heat up again.
Monday’s game was also marked by another historical moment: Alyssa Nakken of the San Francisco Giants served as the first-base coach in the late innings, becoming the first woman to coach on the field in a major league game.