Kathy Willens/Associated Press
Major League Baseball will officially recognize the Black Lives Matter movement as its shortened 2020 season begins Thursday at Nationals Park.
The Washington Nationals announced a Black Lives Matter/MLB stencil will be on the pitcher’s mound for the opening series against the New York Yankees that starts Thursday, per ESPN. The statement also said every home team will feature such a stencil on their mounds during the weekend’s games.
“The Nationals, in conjunction with Major League Baseball, stand with the Black Lives Matter movement and will utilize the platform and national stage of Opening Day to express support for the fight against systemic racism and injustice,” the Nationals announced.
On Sunday, Buster Olney of ESPN reported the league and its players held discussions about how they will address social justice during the 2020 campaign that will be just 60 games after it was shortened because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On June 3, the league issued a statement following the killing of George Floyd saying “our game has zero tolerance for racism and racial injustice” and recognizing “the reality that The black community lives in fear or anxiety over racial discrimination, prejudice or violence is unacceptable.”
The statement also said MLB is “committed to engaging our communities to invoke change.”
There has already been action from those around the league, suggesting it is taking the current climate and fight against systemic racism seriously. San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler joined first base coach Antoan Richardson and outfielders Jaylin Davis, Mike Yastrzemski and Austin Slater in kneeling during the national anthem prior to Monday’s exhibition against the Oakland Athletics.
Members of the Cincinnati Reds, including first baseman Joey Votto, did the same prior to their game against the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday:
While former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick made the most headlines for kneeling during the anthem as a means of protesting police brutality and systemic racism, only former Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell did so on the baseball side.
That so many have already done so even before the season starts underscores a shift in attitudes following the worldwide protests that were sparked by the killing of Floyd, and the league even took to Twitter to recognize the merit behind doing so:
Such a message will be front and center when teams take the field this weekend with these stencils on the mound.