In 2017, former Oakland Athletics catcher, Bruce Maxwell reportedly became the first Major League Baseball player to kneel during the national anthem and largely sacrificed his career for his peaceful protest.
Now, three years later the MLB has had a historic opening day nearly four months after the coronavirus paused professional sports.
According to USA Today, moments before the national anthem played to kick off the MLB opener on Thursday (July 23), the reigning World Series champions, the Washington Nationals and the New York Yankees, all held on to a Black cloth that stretched from the Nationals’ first base line around to the Yankees on the third-base line.
Both teams then took a knee in solidarity of the Black Lives Matter movement, to honor the lives taken away from racism, white violence, and police brutality.
"To have everyone kneel at the same time, it was to give hope to any overall reason you want to do it," said Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton. "For me, it’s for the racial injustice and Black lives in general. And a lot of other things going on. We all have individual reasons to do so.
Hours after the Yankees and the Nationals kneeling gesture for Black Lives, the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants showed their support in the same way.
"I think this is definitely the first step," says Yankee’s star Aaron Judge. "I know Bruce Maxwell took a knee during the anthem, and we just didn’t have the support yet. I think now, having these conversations with these teammates, having these uncomfortable talks, is how you start this. Once you have those talks as a team, then you can take it to the league.
(Photo by Jonathan Newton /The Washington Post via Getty Images)