Oakland A's Player Starts First MLB Kneel Protest

Bruce Maxwell of the Oakland Athletics became the first MLB player to take a knee during the national anthem on Saturday, ABC News reports.

Maxwell's stance brought the sport into the protest movement, which was heightened over the weekend by President Donald Trump's tweets.

Before the Athletics took on the Texas Rangers, Maxwell dropped to his knee just outside the home dugout before the national anthem played. The 26-year-old rookie catcher pressed his right hand against his heart while his teammates stood in a line behind him.

Oakland A's player, Mark Canha, placed his left hand on Maxwell's shoulder during the anthem and after the two shared a hug.

"Everybody watches sports and so everybody loves sports, so I felt this was the right thing for me to do personally," Maxwell said.

Maxwell informed his team's manager Bob Melvin and general manager David Forst of his plan to kneel during the anthem prior to the start of the game. He also held a team meeting where he addressed questions from his teammates.

After the meeting, Canha approached Maxwell to offer his support.

"I could tell he was getting kind of choked up and emotional about his beliefs and how he feels about the racial discrimination that's going on in this country right now," Canha said. "I felt like every fiber in my being was telling me that he needed a brother today."

Shortly after the anthem, the Athletics released a statement on Twitter saying, they "respect and support all of our players' constitutional rights and freedom of expression" and "pride ourselves on being inclusive."

The league also issued a statement: "Major League Baseball has a longstanding tradition of honoring our nation prior to the start of our games. We also respect that each of our players is an individual with his own background, perspectives and opinions. We believe that our game will continue to bring our fans, their communities and our players together."

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Maxwell comes from a military family – his father served in the army – and his agent, Matt Sosnick, told The Associated Press that "the Maxwells' love and appreciation for our country is indisputable."