SF Giants Manager to Skip National Anthem at Games After Uvalde Massacre

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gabe-kapler.jpg Colorado Rockies v San Francisco Giants - Credit: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
gabe-kapler.jpg Colorado Rockies v San Francisco Giants - Credit: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler felt “like a coward” for not taking a knee as Metallica performed the national anthem at Oracle Park Wednesday, mere minutes after a gunman killed 19 children and two adults in Uvalde, Texas.

“Every time I place my hand over my heart and remove my hat, I’m participating in a self-congratulatory glorification of the ONLY country where these mass shootings take place,” he wrote in a blog post on Friday, as he announced that he won’t take the field for the national anthem at Giants’ games “until I feel better about the direction of our country.”

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“Players, staff and fans stood for the moment of silence, grieving the lives lost, and then we (myself included) continued to stand, proudly proclaiming ourselves the land of the free and the home of the brave,” he wrote. “We didn’t stop to reflect on whether we are actually free and brave after this horrific event, we just stood at attention.”

In his post, Kapler said he felt ashamed for not taking a stand during Wednesday night’s game, since his father taught him to only stand for the Pledge of Allegiance when he “believed my country was representing its people well or to protest and stay seated when it wasn’t.” He wrote, “I don’t believe it is representing us well right now.”

Kapler also criticized Texas politicians, including Gov. Greg Abbott and Sen. Ted Cruz, who denied that gun control regulations could have prevented the horrific attack.

“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,” he wrote. “But we weren’t given bravery, and we aren’t free.”

Kapler explained that he wished he would’ve said something or made some sort of symbol of disagreement during that national anthem, but didn’t want to be misunderstood as offensive to others.

“My brain said drop to a knee; my body didn’t listen,” he wrote in a blog post, titled “Home of the Brave?,” announcing his decision. “I wanted to walk back inside; instead I froze. I felt like a coward.”

Kapler ended his post, writing, “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.”

Before Wednesday’s Giants game — where San Francisco beat the New York Mets 13-12 — Metallica returned to the Bay Area for the team’s annual Metallica Night, where frontman James Hetfield threw the ceremonial first pitch, drummer Lars Ulrich announced the starting lineup, and Hetfield and Kirk Hammett performed “Star-Spangled Banner” on the guitar.

Kapler is no stranger to protesting during pre-game national anthem performances. In 2020, he sparked the ire of then-President Donald Trump after he and several players took a knee during an exhibition game against crosstown rivals the Oakland Athletics.

“Looking forward to live sports,” Trump tweeted about Kapler and the team. “But any time I witness a player kneeling during the National Anthem, a sign of great disrespect for our Country and our Flag, the game is over for me!”

In response to Trump, Kapler told USA Today, “I don’t see it as disrespect at all. I see nothing more American than standing up for what you believe in. I see nothing more patriotic than peaceful protests when things are frustrating and upsetting.”

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