ST. PETERSBURG -- Before the start of the Rays' 6-4 Opening Day loss to the Blue Jays at Tropicana Field on Friday, both teams stood down the first- and third-base line holding a 200-yard black cloth in concert with a planned gesture throughout baseball to help bring attention to racial
ST. PETERSBURG -- Before the start of the Rays' 6-4 Opening Day loss to the Blue Jays at Tropicana Field on Friday, both teams stood down the first- and third-base line holding a 200-yard black cloth in concert with a planned gesture throughout baseball to help bring attention to racial injustice.
During the moment of silence, about half of the Blue Jays' players and staff members went down on one knee, while all the Rays' players and staff remained standing. Rays first-base coach and former Major Leaguer Ozzie Timmons stood for the Canadian national anthem, but he took a knee for "The Star-Spangled Banner" in order to protest against racial injustices. Third-base coach Rodney Linares joined Timmons in taking a knee for the U.S. anthem. Shortstop Willy Adames stood in between the two, placing a hand on each man’s shoulder.
“I support equality and I think everybody should do that,” Adames said. “For me, it’s pretty special that I can support two of my coaches and my friends out there. I’m just happy that I’m right next to them to support them.”
Earlier on Friday, the Rays organization committed $100,000 to local groups including CDC of Tampa, the Pinellas County Urban League, Equal Justice Initiative, The Remembrance Project, NAACP Hillsborough and Pinellas Ex Offender Re-Entry Coalition. All organizations are committed to fighting systemic racism.
On the Blue Jays' side, once the Canadian national anthem began playing, Anthony Alford and Santiago Espinal stayed down on a knee, while the other Jays who were kneeling stood. When the United States national anthem began playing, more players and staff members joined Alford and Espinal in kneeling.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Cavan Biggio joined Alford and Espinal, with Lourdes Gurriel Jr. placing a hand on Guerrero and Rowdy Tellez placing his on Alford. This was a decision the Blue Jays made in support of Alford.
“He’s very hurt inside for what’s happening right now,” Guerrero said of Alford. “It’s the reality of things that are happening right now for people with our colour.”
Juan Toribio covers the Rays for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @juanctoribio.
Keegan Matheson is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter @KeeganMatheson.