Roughly a dozen members of the San Francisco Giants have taken a knee during the playing of the national anthem over the last week, with many offering different explanations for their protests.
Giants manager Gabe Kapler said he takes a knee because he’s dissatisfied with the way the United States has addressed issues of racial justice and police brutality. First base coach Antoan Richardson said he drops down on two knees and prays “for a change of heart,” during the anthem. Rookie outfielder Jaylin Davis, the team’s lone Black player, penned an essay this summer documenting examples of racism he’s experienced in his baseball career and said he kneels to continue conversations promoting equality.
Six days after first kneeling during the anthem, Giants outfielder Mike Yastrzemski detailed his decision on a video conference call with reporters. Yastrzemski, the grandson of Red Sox legend and Hall of Famer, Carl Yastrzemski, says the root of his protest is in supporting friends who have experienced racism and inequality in their lives.
“I wanted to show my support and show that I don’t believe that what has happened to them has been right,” Yastrzemski said. “And I just wanted them to know that I love them and I support them and I’m willing to put myself up to be vulnerable, to open myself up to a lot of ridicule from people who want to create hate and willing to just show that I want to help change the focus, create conversation and try to help educate people in any way possible.”
Yastrzemski, who also posted a statement regarding his decision to his Instagram page this week, added that he hopes creating conversation and promoting education will lead others to work to ensure everyone will “have the freedoms that we are guaranteed in our Constitution.”
The second-year outfielder said he’s heard from many family members and friends who have expressed “love and support” for his anthem protests and expressed an appreciation to the Giants organization for its willingness to allow its players and coaches to take a stand.
“I felt that I was wanting to show that I’m willing to do what I can to help our country just like everybody else because I think we need some change,” Yastrzemski said. “We’re fortunate to have an organization that supports us as humans.”
Yastrzemski said he has seen ways his former Vanderbilt teammates and current Oakland A’s infielder Tony Kemp experienced racism and has been moved by Kemp’s +1 Effect movement. In a social media post in June, Kemp said he hoped his +1 Effect efforts would “Change one perspective, hope they change another, and slowly we begin to see the type of systemic change that Kemp has been waiting for for a lifetime.”
Kemp was a groomsman in Yastrzemski’s wedding and is someone Yastrzemski considers a leader in creating positive change.
“He’s been talking to senators and governors and really trying to do something positive to make sure that we’re not having to have some sort of divide ever again and it’s inspirational,” Yastrzemski said.
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Author: Kerry Crowley