The pregame ceremony prior to the Giants-Dodgers season opener at Dodger Stadium on Thursday included several poignant moments, culminating with several players kneeling during the singing of the national anthem.
All uniformed personnel took a knee during a planned demonstration that began with players clutching a 200-yard black fabric as a show of unity, followed by a prolonged moment of silence prior to the anthem.
Most players then rose to their feet before the singing of the anthem, performed by gospel singer Keith Williams Jr., a semi-regular performer at Dodger Stadium. Before Williams hit the first note, Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts removed his hat and knelt, the only Dodger to kneel during the anthem. Moments later, teammates Max Muncy and Cody Bellinger, both standing, put a hand on each of Betts’ shoulders in a show of support.
On the Giants' side, several opted to kneel through the anthem, including manager Gabe Kapler, infielder Pablo Sandoval, and outfielders Mike Yastrzemski, Jaylin Davis and Hunter Pence, among others.
“Everybody's here, we’re all on the same team. We're all here for change,” Betts said. “Even their team -- even the Giants -- I definitely tip my cap to the support. We have a great group of guys here, we're all supportive of each other. It definitely doesn't surprise me that [Bellinger] and [Muncy] were there with me.”
While a plan was circulated among players to present a show of unity during Opening Day ceremonies, kneeling during the anthem was a separate decision based on individual preference. The Giants’ approach was previewed during their exhibition games earlier in the week, when Kapler and select players opted to kneel during the anthem.
Raised public consciousness around racial and social justice has been part of the national conversation all summer in the wake of the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer over Memorial Day weekend.
Players wore Black Lives Matter T-shirts during batting practice, and game uniforms included patches that said “Black Lives Matter” and “United for Change.” The pitcher’s mound at the Giants-Dodgers game, as well as the opener between the Nationals and Yankees in Washington, D.C., displayed a stencil of the inverted MLB logo depicting a Black player, with the message “BLM.”