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Giants' Kapler becomes first manager to kneel during anthem

The San Francisco Giants’ Gabe Kapler became the first major league manager to kneel during the national anthem, joining a number of his players in the action before a Monday night road exhibition game against the Oakland Athletics.

FILE PHOTO: July 5, 2020; San Francisco, California, United States; San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler (19) walks in the outfield during a Spring Training workout at Oracle Park. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

According to multiple media reports, other Giants who took a knee were outfielders Austin Slater, Jaylin Davis and Mike Yastrzemski as well as first base coach Antoan Richardson.

Kapler has been an outspoken backer of the Black Lives Matter movement, but he did not publicly announce his intention of kneeling on Monday.

After the game, Kapler said, “I spoke to the group (pregame) today, and I gave them essentially two messages. The first message was that our coaching staff and our organization would support any statement that they wanted to make. If they kneeled for the anthem, we would support that. If they stood for the anthem, we would support that, too. We wouldn’t pass judgment on them for making any statement or standing up for what they believe in or expressing themselves.

“The second message I wanted to share was what my plans were. I did that because I wanted them to know that I wasn’t pleased with the way our country has handled police brutality, and I told them that I wanted to amplify their voices and I wanted to amplify the voice of the Black community and marginalized communities as well.”

In online posts, Kapler has decried discrimination including racism and sexism. He wrote, “The number one thing I can do right now is carefully listen to Black people. I can hear their stories, their experiences and their pain. I can ask follow-up questions. I can use my platform and my voice to amplify theirs. The follow-up step is to encourage and have the difficult conversation in the clubhouse.”

Kapler, 44, is entering his first season as the Giants’ manager. He managed the Philadelphia Phillies the past two years, producing an overall 161-163 record.

In a 12-year playing career as an outfielder, Kapler batted .268 with a .329 on-base percentage, a .420 slugging percentage, 82 homers and 386 RBIs in 1,104 games. He played for the Detroit Tigers (1998-99), Texas Rangers (2000-02), Colorado Rockies (2002-03), Boston Red Sox (2003-06), Milwaukee Brewers (2008) and Tampa Bay Rays (2009-10). Kapler earned a World Series ring as a member of the Red Sox’s 2004 title team.

The Bay Area has been at the forefront of sports figures taking a knee during the national anthem to protest racism and police brutality.

Then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” ahead of games in 2016. He hasn’t played in the NFL since that year.

The first MLB player to take a knee during the anthem was then-Oakland Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell in 2017. Maxwell spent last year with Acereros de Monclova in Mexico, and he re-signed with that club for this season.

--Field Level Media