‘I think he’d want us to do more’: Astros protest injustice by boycotting game on Jackie Robinson Day

It may have been a celebratory day for Jackie Robinson throughout baseball, but the Houston Astros, believing they would make baseball’s legendary figure proud, boycotted their game Friday night against the Houston Astros.

“This is a tough time,’’ Astros outfielder Michael Brantley said. “We need to make changes. Jackie did a lot of great things, but I think he’d want us to do more.

“I think taking a stand and having these conversations is going to help us do more.’’

So, the Astros, who had not played the past two days because of Hurricane Laura, became the only team to boycott their game on Jackie Robinson Day. They will celebrate Robinson’s legacy Saturday with a doubleheader against the Oakland Athletics.

“If we can change one person’s mind, have a conversation that changes one person’s thought process, saves a life,’’ Brantley said, “this was worth it for us.’’

There are now nine teams left who have yet to boycott a game this season, including the New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals, but the Astros were adamant they wanted to make a stand. The players told manager Dusty Baker at about 5 p.m. that they would not play the game, but wanted to show their protest in a poignant way.

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They met with the Athletics, who boycotted their game Thursday, and the two teams took the field and stood on the foul lines. They draped a Black Lives Matter T-shirt across home plate. Catcher Martin Maldonado then laid down a No. 42 Astros jersey in the left-handed batter's box while shortstop Marcus Semien laid down an Athletics jersey in the right-handed box.

They had a 42-second moment of silence, and both teams waved their caps to one another, and left the field.

The Astros had spoken, loud and clear.

The Astros and A’s, all wearing No. 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson, put a Black Lives Matter T-shirt on home plate and took a 42-second moment of silence.

Both teams have exited the field and the game has been postponed. pic.twitter.com/abSm4ZHuuE

“I’ve been through a lot of changes, social changes,’’ Baker said, “but this is something that’s unprecedented. I think the whole world is behind these young people. When you see young people all over the world, standing up for equal rights and justice, it makes me think the world is not hopeless.

“I’m proud of this generation. In the 60s, it was mostly African Americans and a few white Americans that stood up. In this day and age, I’m seeing young people from all nationalities and races that are standing up together. I am very proud of the young people in this country.

“We need to listen to these young people some more because it’s going to be their world.’’

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Now, with baseball players speaking out for social justice – with 11 games now being postponed since Wednesday in protest of the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin – maybe baseball once again can reclaim the title of being "America’s pastime."

“This is called America’s game,’’ Baker said, “but for a while, it got away from being America’s game. This has brought it back full circle.

“This is definitely America’s game. America belongs to all of us, no matter if you got here early or you got here late.

“We all had a hand in building this country, and we all had a hand in tearing it down.

“Now we have to build it up again.’’

Opinion: After watershed week, MLB needs to amplify Jackie Robinson's entire legacy

Houston Astros players walk off the field Friday night after a 42-second moment of silence. (Photo: Troy Taormina, USA TODAY Sports)

The hate has to go away, Baker and his players say, if this country is ever going to heal, and perhaps another night of silence will help create the needed awareness.

“Boy, it’s getting worse and worse in the country,’’ Baker said. “Something has to be done, and something has to stop. It’s senseless shootings, senseless killings. Kids are going to have nightmares. You’re supposed to feel safe in this country. You’re not supposed to feel threatened or afraid…

“I’ve been saying for years that we’re on a racial time bomb in this country, and it appears that a lot of innocent people could get hurt, and I’m hoping that the leaders do something to change it.’’

Follow Nightengale on Twitter: @Bnightengale

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