Players on both teams knelt before the national anthem at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, holding a single length of black fabric while a video on racial injustice played. Some then remained kneeling during the anthem, including Giants manager Gabe Kepler. Other players to kneel included Dodger Mookie Betts and Giants players Pablo Sandoval and Mike Yastrzemski.
The demonstrations come after nearly two months of anti-racism and police brutality protests have rocked the country in the wake of the death of George Floyd, a Black man killed by Minneapolis police officers. The act of taking a knee ― made famous by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who faced harsh backlash after he knelt during the national anthem in 2016 to draw attention to racial inequality and police brutality ― has become a powerful symbol of protest for athletes.
It appears to be a pivotal moment in sports as many leagues, some of which were previously resistant to allowing athlete activism, take an active stand on social justice issues as they resume games following months-long delays.
Major League Baseball said Wednesday that players would be permitted this season to wear wristbands and batting practice T-shirts in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. On opening weekend, teams had the option to put “BLM” or “United for Change” on the back of the pitcher’s mound and on jersey patches.
“As a team, we’re having conversations in our clubhouse over the last two days. I know the Yankees are doing the same thing,″ Washington Nationals pitcher Sean Doolittle said Wednesday, according to The Associated Press. “I think it’s really important for us as a league to echo what other sports leagues have done so far. We’ve seen the MLS. We’ve seen NASCAR. We’ve seen Formula One make really powerful statements.”
Yankees manager Aaron Boone gave his pregame conference in a Black Lives Matter shirt. On the West Coast, San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers players and coaches on the field wore Black Lives Matter T-shirts before the game.
Earlier this week, Giants manager Kepler and several players knelt during the national anthem before an exhibition game. They were the first members of a Major League Baseball team to do so since Bruce Maxwell did it in 2017, USA Today reported, and it marked the first time a league manager has knelt during the anthem.