San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler, two coaches, and three players knelt during the playing of the national anthem before the team’s exhibition game against the Oakland Athletics on Monday night.
The action came in the first of two practice games before the Giants begin their truncated 60-game regular season Thursday against the Los Angeles Dodgers and a day before President Donald Trump criticized any sports figure who kneeled during the playing of the "Star Spangled Banner," calling it in a tweet a "sign of great disrespect."
Kapler kneeled along with coaches Antoan Richardson and Justin Viele and outfielders Mike Yastrzemski – the grandson of Baseball Hall of Fame member and Boston Red Sox great Carl Yastrzemski – Austin Slater and Jaylin Davis.
The demonstration drew no fan reaction since the game at the Oakland Coliseum – like all games are scheduled to be across the country – was played without spectators.
While it was not publicly announced, Kapler – in his first season with San Francisco after being fired by the Philadelphia Phillies at the end of 2019 – told his players before the game his intentions.
"I wanted to share what my plans were, and I did that because I wanted them to know that I wasn't pleased with the way our country has handled police brutality," Kapler told NBC Sports. "I told them that I wanted to amplify their voices and I wanted to amplify the voice of the black community and marginalized communities as well.
"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."
Kaper did not say if the demonstration would be repeated. The Giants game this Saturday against the Dodgers is one of three scheduled to be nationally televised on the Fox network.
"We're going to have 60 chances during the regular season to make the same decision that we made today, to either stand or kneel or do something different," he said.
The Giants were not the only MLB coaches or players to kneel Monday. NBC Sports reported Los Angeles Angels relief pitcher Keynan Middleton kneeled and raised his fist during the national anthem before a game against the San Diego Padres in Petco Park.
The NFL has said it will play the "black national anthem," "Lift Every Voice and Sing," before every game in the first week of the season, and the NBA, which is set to resume its season July 30, will have sidelines painted with "Black Lives Matter" and allow players to wear political messages on their uniforms.
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