Giants manager Gabe Kapler kneels with players during national anthem before 6-2 victory over Oakland Athletics
'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,' Kapler said
San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler grabbed headlines as he spoke out against racial injustice and vowed to use his position to provide a platform for those who aren't heard. Prior to their stunning 6-2 exhibition victory against the Oakland Athletics, several Giants players were joined by Kapler as they knelt during the national anthem in protest. Kapler opened up to his team earlier Monday, promising that every player would be supported by the Giants no matter what they chose to do.
“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. "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."
Right fielder Jaylin Davis and first base coach Antoan Richardson were seen in footage taking a knee as shortstop Brandon Crawford placed a hand on each of their shoulders while standing in between. Kapler revealed some of the Giants had reached out to other organizations and that the team would make such important discissions "a part of the fabric of our clubhouse." “We've had a lot of conversations about the anthem over the course of the last 72 hours and when I say we, I mean our coaching staff and our players,” Kapler said. “We connected with small groups of players, we connected with players individually and had meaningful conversations about this topic.”
The Monday fixture was held on the same field where former A’s catcher Bruce Maxwell became the first major leaguer to 'take a knee' during the national anthem in 2017.
Meanwhile, Angels reliever Keynan Middleton kneeled before the team's 1-0 victory over the Padres in San Diego. Middleton told Angels manager Joe Maddon in advance that he wanted to kneel, and the team reportedly had no problem with it. “I'm very proud that he stood up for his beliefs tonight. I really am,” Maddon said. “It's not easy to do that, a young man like himself, being the only one out here doing that.”
Kapler spent two disappointing years guiding the Phillies before beginning his first season managing the Giants in 2020. The 44-year-old coach didn't say how often he was going to kneel, but noted that “we're going to have 60 chances in the regular season to make the same decision that we made today, to either stand or kneel or do something different. Right now it's another opportunity tomorrow night.”
That said, Kapler has been a believer in athletes' roles in helping spur change and has been vocal about social injustice and racial issues for the longest time.