Every player and coach for the New York Yankees and Washington Nationals took a knee on the field for 60 seconds in support of the Black Lives Matter movement before the start of Thursday’s MLB season opener.
Members of both teams held a 200-yard black cloth while a video about racial inequality played on the screen at Nationals Park.
“The unity ceremony was started by the players,” Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton told reporters after the game. “If you unite, kneeling can bring something good. It wasn’t to stand out and do something separate for anything else than to bring unity all for the same cause.”
The national anthem was played after the Black Lives Matter video. The players and coaches stood during the recorder version of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
All of this happened just a few hours after President Trump said he accepted an invitation to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at Yankee Stadium on Aug. 15. The president previously had declined all offers to throw out a first pitch,. Former Yankees pitcher Mariano Rivera joined Trump at the White House Thursday afternoon to celebrate the return of baseball.
Earlier this week, Trump had tweeted that he would not watch baseball if players knelt during the anthem.
The scene in Washington was repeated later in the night before the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants opened their season at Dodger Stadium. Dodgers star Mookie Betts and Giants manager Gabe Kapler were among those who continued to kneel during the national anthem.
Every player and coach on the Yankees & Nationals took a knee before the national anthem tonight in D.C.
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) July 23, 2020
Mookie Betts takes a knee during the National Anthem, supported by teammates Cody Bellinger and Max Muncy. pic.twitter.com/OJyZ84hMLV
— MLB (@MLB) July 24, 2020
There was no shortage of social justice messages on Opening Day. “BLM” was stenciled on the mound for both games. Some players wore jersey patches that read “Black Lives Matter” and “United for Change.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, threw out the first pitch before the game at Nationals Park.