Why Bruce Maxwell Became The First MLB Player To Kneel For The National Anthem


(Photo: Getty Images)

It took 405 days, but athletes’ protesting of racial injustice via kneeling during the national anthem finally crossed into Major League Baseball, just across the Bay from where it began with Colin Kaepernick, then of the San Francisco 49ers.

Bruce Maxwell kneeled for the anthem before his Oakland Athletics’ 1-0 defeat of the Texas Rangers on Saturday, then kneeled once more before the A’s crushed Texas, 8-1, on Sunday.

On Saturday morning, Maxwell tweeted this.

After a meeting with manager Bob Melvin and teammates to inform them of and explain his decision, teammates were supportive, according to the catcher. One, outfielder Mark Canha, asked if he could place his hand on Maxwell’s shoulder for support.

Maxwell didn’t play in either game, as he’s presently blocked by concussion protocol.

“My decision has been coming for a long time,” Maxwell said on Saturday. “I know I was on the fence for a long time because I know no one in baseball has ever done it. I finally got to the point where I thought the inequality of man is being discussed, and it’s being practiced from our president.

“The point of my kneeling is not to disrespect our military, it’s not to disrespect our Constitution, it’s not to disrespect this country. … My hand over my heart symbolizes the fact that I am and I’ll forever be an American citizen, and I’m more than grateful to be here. But my kneeling is what is getting the attention because I’m kneeling for the people that don’t have a voice.

“And this goes beyond the black community, and this goes beyond the Hispanic community, because right now we’re having an indifference and a racial divide in all types of people. It’s being practiced from the highest power that we have in this country, and it’s basically saying that it’s OK to treat people differently. My kneeling, the way I did it, was to symbolize that I’m kneeling for a cause, but I’m in no way or form disrespecting my country or my flag.”

Bruce Maxwell is the son of a U.S. Army veteran, and was born on a U.S. military installation in Wiesbaden, Germany, while his father was doing a tour of duty.

As a minor leaguer in 2015, Maxwell spoke about what it meant for him to play on the Fourth of July.

“It means a little bit more to me,” Maxwell said. “I take it a little more personal. It’s closer to my heart than most holidays and so it’s just about a respect of guys that give their lives every day and their families that feel the repercussions of what they do over there, even in the States. It’s a big thing for me and it’s an honor to play on this day.”