Astros, A's don't play: 'We had full support'

August 29th, 2020

HOUSTON -- On a day they were set to celebrate the life and legacy of Jackie Robinson, the Astros and A’s elected not play Friday’s game at Minute Maid Park as teams in Major League Baseball and beyond continue to bring attention to the need for societal change.

In the wake of Sunday's police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis., 20 MLB teams had chosen not to play games on Wednesday and Thursday, both of which were off-days for Houston. Friday was to be the Astros' first game since Tuesday, after they reworked their schedule this week as Hurricane Laura approached the region.

“We felt this message was bigger than missing another game to show support for our brothers, not only on our team but across the league, as well, to let them know we have their backs every day no matter what goes on,” Astros veteran outfielder Josh Reddick said. 

Both clubs stood along the foul lines for the national anthem in jerseys with No. 42 on them for Jackie Robinson Day. Managers Bob Melvin and Dusty Baker met with the umpires at home plate and the Astros took the field a minute before the scheduled 8:10 CT start time.

In a statement, the Astros said: “The Houston Astros players, with support from the Oakland players, have decided to postpone tonight’s game. We support their decision to make a strong statement in support of the fight for racial equality. We are proud of our players’ efforts to use their voices to drive necessary change. The Astros and A’s will proudly celebrate Jackie Robinson Day tomorrow when play is resumed.”

The teams will play a doubleheader Saturday at Minute Maid Park beginning at 3:10 p.m., during which they’ll wear the No. 42 jerseys in Game 1.

Because the Astros were off the previous two days, the team met shortly before the series opener against the A’s and decided it needed to join the protest. Reddick spoke with Melvin, his former manager with the A’s, and former teammate Tony Kemp to get their support.

“They loved every minute of it and were on board from the get-go,” Reddick said. “We had full support from everybody. It’s really good to see when a team like that can come into your own ballpark and really support you and your decision because they know how important something like that is.”

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Veteran Astros outfielder Michael Brantley talked about raising four multiracial children and how he hopes conversations spawn from moments like Friday will help them live in a safer world.

“If we could have a conversation that changes one person’s thought process that saves a life, this was worth it to us,” he said. “As a group, as a community, we’re doing a great job of talking about it, but these situations keep coming up and they have to stop.”

It was just three weeks ago the Astros and A’s were involved in a benches-clearing incident in Oakland in which A’s outfielder Ramón Laureano charged the Houston dugout after being provoked by hitting coach Alex Cintrón. None of that mattered Friday.

“Baseball is a brotherhood, and no more than right now,” Melvin said. “No thought about when we played them last time. Just sympathy for the situation and total understanding. Everybody knows what is at stake here tonight, then we get back on the field and play tomorrow.”

Brantley said he recently read a quote by Brewers outfielder Lorenzo Cain about whether Robinson would be happy with the racial progress made today, and his answer was “no.”

“This is a tough time,” Brantley said. “I still think we need to make a lot of change. Jackie did a lot of great things, but I think he would want more. And I think that taking a stand and having these conversations is going to help us do more.”