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'Doing My Part': Oakland A's Catcher Becomes 1st MLB Player to Kneel for National Anthem

"The only platform right now that seems to be getting people's attention is athletes kneeling during the anthem, so I'm doing my part in doing that in baseball," Bruce Maxwell said after the game

Oakland Athletics' catcher Bruce Maxwell on Saturday took a knee during the playing of the national anthem, marking the first time a Major League Baseball player has performed such an act.

Footage captured before Oakland's contest against the Texas Rangers featured Maxwell, the son of an Army officer, drop to one knee and hold his hat against his heart while teammate Mark Canha lowered his hand on Maxwell's shoulder.

Maxwell's decision comes on the heels of President Donald Trump suggesting that NFL owners should fire any player who chooses to kneel for the national anthem. Players across the NFL have been taking a knee, sitting or hoisting their fists into the air during the anthem ever since former San Francisco 49ers' quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the anthem last fall in protest of racial injustice and unfair policing.

"The only platform right now that seems to be getting people's attention is athletes kneeling during the anthem, so I'm doing my part in doing that in baseball," Maxwell said after the game. 

Bob Melvin, the manager of the A's, said Maxwell addressed the team before Saturday's contest and let them know about his plans to drop to one knee. Melvin said some members of the squad had questions but added that Maxwell handled the situation "really well" and the team felt "comfortable" when all was said and done.

Khris Davis, a left fielder for the A's, applauded Maxwell for bravely following through.

"I thought it was very courageous," Davis said. "I respect his decision."

Maxwell, who admitted that taking a knee for the national anthem was "one of the hardest things I've ever had to do," is not worried about the expected backlash coming his way.

"The end of the matter is, when people voice their opinions and it ruffles some feathers a little bit, then negativity always comes through, but at the same time, that's what's needed to make a change," he said.

Maxwell was born in Wiesbaden, Germany, while his father was stationed there in the Army. He later moved to Alabama, where he attended high school and college. Maxwell's agent, Matt Sosnick, told The Associated Press 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."

Maxwell took to Twitter earlier Saturday and wrote, "Don't be surprised if you start seeing athletes kneeling in other sports now!! Comments like that coming from our president. WOW!"

"Inequality is being displayed bigger than ever right now as our president shows that freeedom (sic) of protest and speech is not allowed..," Maxwell wrote in another tweet.

Minutes before Maxwell put his plan into action, the A's issued a statement of backing.

"The Oakland A's pride ourselves on being inclusive," the statement read. "We respect and support all of our players' constitutional rights and freedom of expression."

Major League Baseball also issued a statement, saying it has "a longstanding tradition of honoring our nation prior to the start of our games" but that "we also respect that each of our players is an individual with his own background, perspectives and opinions."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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