San Francisco Giants pitcher Sam Coonrod refused to kneel in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement ahead of the team’s season opener Friday, saying he would feel “like a hypocrite” because of his Christian faith and personal beliefs.
“I don’t think I’m better than anybody. I’m just a Christian,” he told reporters. “I believe I can’t kneel before anything but God, Jesus Christ. I chose not to kneel. I feel if I did kneel I’d be a hypocrite. I don’t want to be a hypocrite.”
He added that he “just can’t get on board with a couple things I’ve read about Black Lives Matter. How they lean towards Marxism and … they said some negative things about the nuclear family.”
Every player and staff member from the Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers joined together to kneel and hold a black ribbon for the moment honoring Black Lives Matter, as did the New York Yankees and Washington Nationals in their game earlier on Friday. Coonrod was the only player or staff member of the four teams who stood during the moment.
Today, and every day, we come together as brothers. As equals, all with the same goal – to level the playing field. To change the injustices. Equality is not just a word. It’s our right!
Today we stand as men from 25 nations on 6 continents.
Today, we are one. pic.twitter.com/vKUGdRfwgQ
— MLB (@MLB) July 23, 2020
Some players during the Nationals-Yankees game also donned Black Lives Matter shirts during batting practice and the letters “BLM” were stenciled into the back of the mound at the center diamond.
Though Giants team manager Gabe Kapler kneeled during the ribbon ceremony and the national anthem, he expressed respect for Coonrod’s decision to stand.
“The one thing we said is we were going to let people express themselves,” Kapler said. “We were going to give them the choice on whether they were going to stand, kneel or do something else. That was a personal decision for Sam.”
Coonrod said he meant “no ill will” by his gesture and added, “I’m not mad at someone who decided to kneel. I just don’t think it’s too much to ask that I just get the same respect.”