A’s Bruce Maxwell first MLB player to kneel for anthem

Updated 6:35 pm, Saturday, September 23, 2017

A’s rookie catcher Bruce Maxwell, who earlier in the day profanely bashed President Donald Trump on Instagram, became the first major-league player to kneel during the National Anthem on Saturday before Oakland’s game at the Coliseum.

The product of a military family, Maxwell placed his hand on his heart and faced the flag during the anthem while taking a knee before the game against Texas. Teammate Mark Canha placed his hand on Maxwell’s shoulder.

The A’s issued a statement on Twitter after the National Anthem that read: “The Oakland A’s pride ourselves on being inclusive. We respect and support all our players’ constitutional rights and freedom of expression.”

Saturday morning, Maxwell, who is African American, took a strong stand on Instagram against Trump’s remarks about NFL players who choose to kneel during the National Anthem.

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After Trump’s comments urging NFL owners to fire any players who kneel for the anthem, Maxwell posted a tweet from Andrew Steinthal that suggested that all NFL players should kneel for the anthem on Sunday. Below the post, Maxwell added in a comment, “Yeah, f- this guy! Our president speaks of inequality of man because players are protesting the anthem! F- this man! Seriously on the highest platform for our country expressing that it is OK for there to be division of man and rights!”

Maxwell was born in Wiesbaden, Germany, when his father, who also is named Bruce, was stationed there with the Army. The younger Maxwell grew up in Alabama and he is highly patriotic – he took great pride in the July 4 uniforms and catcher’s gear he received this year – so his decision to kneel appears to be entirely in opposition to Trumps comments and in solidarity with the NFL players who have taken a knee for the anthem.

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Maxwell’s agent, Matt Sosnick, confirmed this Saturday evening, saying via text: “Bruce’s father is a proud military lifer. Anyone who knows Bruce or his parents is well aware that the Maxwells’ love and appreciation for our country is indisputable.

“Bruce has made it clear that he is taking a stand about what he perceives as racial injustices in this country, and his personal disappointment with President Trump’s response to a number of professional athletes’ totally peaceful, non-violent protests

“Bruce has shared with both me and his teammates that his feelings have nothing to do with a lack of patriotism or a hatred of any man, but rather everything to do with equality for men, women and children regardless of race or religion.”

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Maxwell was not in the lineup Saturday because he is going through the concussion protocol after taking a foul ball off the mask Wednesday at Detroit.

While numerous players and athletes in other sports have joined Colin Kaepernick’s anthem protest over the past year, no big-leaguer had done so before Maxwell. A year ago, Baltimore outfielder Adam Jones, who is African American, told USA Today that no major-leaguers had followed suit “because baseball is a white man’s sport.”

The percentage of African Americans on Opening Day rosters this year was 7.1 percent, the lowest since 1958, according to USA Today.

Susan Slusser is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @susanslusser




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