Kapler sits out national anthem in wake of Uvalde shooting

Manager plans to protest until he feels better about ‘the direction of our country’

May 28th, 2022

CINCINNATI -- Three days ago, Gabe Kapler stood on the field at Oracle Park as the Giants held a moment of silence for the victims of the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, where 19 children and two adults were killed after an 18-year-old gunman opened fire at an elementary school.  

The news weighed heavily on Kapler’s mind, and for a moment, he considered kneeling during the national anthem or walking off the field to express his frustration with the lack of action from the country’s political leaders to curb gun violence and prevent yet another mass shooting.  

“My brain said drop to a knee; my body didn’t listen,” Kapler wrote in a blog post on Friday. “I wanted to walk back inside; instead, I froze. I felt like a coward. I didn’t want to call attention to myself. I didn’t want to take away from the victims or their families. There was a baseball game, a rock band, the lights, the pageantry. I knew that thousands of people were using this game to escape the horrors of the world for just a little bit. I knew that thousands more wouldn’t understand the gesture and would take it as an offense to the military, to veterans, to themselves. 

“But I am not okay with the state of this country. I wish I hadn’t let my discomfort compromise my integrity. I wish that I could have demonstrated what I learned from my dad, that when you’re dissatisfied with your country, you let it be known through protest. The home of the brave should encourage this.” 

Kapler regrets not doing more on Tuesday, but he put his plans to protest in his own way in motion when he did not participate in the national anthem prior to the series opener against the Reds on Friday.

“I don’t plan on coming out for the anthem going forward until I feel better about the direction of our country,” Kapler said prior to the game. “That will be the step. I don’t expect it to move the needle necessarily. It’s just something that I feel strongly enough about to take that step.”   

Kapler, who was raised by activist parents, has used his platform to draw attention to social issues before. He was the first Major League manager to take a knee during the national anthem to show support for the Black Lives Matter movement two years ago, though he discontinued the practice in 2021, explaining that he preferred to shift the focus toward the actionable steps he was taking to continue the fight for progress and equality, such as his work with his Pipeline for Change foundation.

Still, Kapler felt it was necessary to speak out following Tuesday’s tragic events, which came only 10 days after another gunman killed 10 Black shoppers and workers in a racist attack in a supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y. In his blog post on Friday, Kapler called on elected officials to enact change rather than continue to kowtow to gun lobbyists.  

“We elect our politicians to represent our interests,” Kapler wrote. “Immediately following this shooting, we were told we needed locked doors and armed teachers. We were given thoughts and prayers. We were told it could have been worse, and we just need love.”

Read Kapler’s full blog post here.