The A’s were informed hours before first pitch Friday that the Houston Astros would be postponing their game in response to the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
“We had an idea something like this would happen this series, and we certainly understand it,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said.
The Astros hadn’t had a chance to make a statement, to join the movement sweeping across sports. They’d postponed their previous two games, but that was in response to Hurricane Laura.
Friday, on Jackie Robinson Day, the Astros got their chance.
Minutes before first-pitch, the A’s and Astros crowded their dugouts wearing their No. 42 jerseys and stood side-by-side on their respective lines for the playing of the national anthem.
Then the Astros took their defensive positions. Lance McCullers, Houston’s starting pitcher, took the mound, picked up the ball — and walked back to the dugout.
That cued the A’s and Astros teams to stand side-by-side again for 42 seconds in a moment of silence.
Astros manager Dusty Baker — he and Los Angeles Dodgers’ Dave Roberts are the only two Black managers in baseball — was the first to turn back to his dugout and into the halls of Minute Maid Park. Both sides followed suit, and the game was officially postponed.
On each side of the batter’s box, the A’s and Astros left a jersey of their own with ’42’ emblazoned on the back. A ‘Black Lives Matter’ t-shirt was left over home plate.
The two teams will play a doubleheader Saturday starting at 1:10 p.m. PT at Minute Maid Park. Chris Bassitt — who was scheduled to pitch in the A’s postponed game against the Texas Rangers Thursday — will pitch the first of that double header. Frankie Montas will start the second.
The last time these two teams saw each other was in the haze of a brawl that saw Ramón Laureano and Astros hitting coach Alex Cintrón suspended. But Friday they came together for something bigger.
“Baseball is a brotherhood,” Melvin said. “And no more so than right now. So, no thought about when we played them last time. Just sympathy for the situation and total understanding.”
The holiday baseball celebrates every April 15 — in a normal year — hit not only a different day, but a different light in the scope of this wave of injustice and protest.
“I woke up this morning, and I always knew the story of Jackie Robinson. But I had a different view today,” Melvin said. “I was angry today. I was sad. I was all the above. I was looking forward to putting this jersey on. I have the utmost respect for No. 42 and his plight.”
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Author: Shayna Rubin