During the pregame Opening Day festivities at Dodger Stadium, several players on the Dodgers and Giants kneeled as part of a coordinated effort with The Players Alliance to promote unity throughout Major League Baseball.
Players on both teams after kneeled along the foul lines and jointly held a black ribbon that stretched from left field all the way around to right field.
The gesture, which will take place league-wide on Opening Days both Thursday and Friday, was spearheaded by The Players Alliance, a group whose board includes Andrew McCutchen, C.C. Sabathia, Edwin Jackson and Cameron Maybin. Their group mission is “building equitable systems in order to change the directory of diversity throughout baseball.”
Dave Roberts talked about the moment before the game.
“The plan is for us to hold it up to show unity, to support social justice and talk about racial injustice,” Roberts said. “It’s going to be great.”
After holding the ribbon, most players stood up for the national anthem. Several Giants, including Hunter Pence, Pablo Sandoval, and manager Gabe Kapler, kneeled during the anthem. Mookie Betts was the only Dodger seen kneeling, doing so with Cody Bellinger and Max Muncy each putting a hand on his shoulder.
After the game, Betts talked about his kneeling.
Mookie Betts said he isn’t sure if he will kneel again moving forward.— Jorge Castillo (@jorgecastillo) July 24, 2020
I think kneeling is definitely something that shows we need change but also I have to put some actions into play away from MLB and that’s my primary goal. Today was just to unify both teams, both sides.”
Mookie Betts said in 2016 he would never kneel during the national anthem because his father served in the Air Force. He kneeled tonight in protest of racial injustice. He said he knows now that kneeling does not disrespect the military.— Pedro Moura (@pedromoura) July 24, 2020
“I wasn’t educated,” he said. “My fault."
“I have talked to our guys about kneeling, and for me it was more of an individual choice,” manager Dave Roberts said before the game. “Collectively, we really haven’t settled on anything. I think for me, I just want to encourage each and every man to make their own decision.”
Over the years, Roberts has changed his stance on kneeling during the anthem. In 2017, when A’s catcher Bruce Maxwell was the only player to kneel during the anthem, Roberts initially said he had a problem with it because his father served in the Marines for 30 years.
“I realized that standing at attention is not mutually exclusive to your thoughts on on social justice, police brutality, and things that Colin Kaepernick and Maxwell, what he felt,” Roberts said Thursday. “As I’ve learned, I just believe that you’re not trying to disrespect the soldiers, men and women that serve our country and that lay their lives on the line every single day, my father included.
“So yeah, I have evolved and change,” he added.