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Bruce Maxwell, Athletics catcher, first MLBer to kneel during anthem

Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell kneels during the national

Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell kneels during the national anthem before the start of a game against the Rangers Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, in Oakland, Calif. Credit: AP / Eric Risberg

OAKLAND, Calif. — Bruce Maxwell of the Oakland A’s took a knee during the national anthem Saturday at Oakland Coliseum, becoming the first major-league ballplayer to join in a social protest that crossed the line into politics this weekend when President Donald Trump denounced similar protests by NFL players.

Maxwell dropped to a knee just outside Oakland’s dugout, adopting a protest started by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in response to police treatment of blacks.

Maxwell’s protest came after Trump verbally attacked protests by NFL players and rescinded a White House invitation for NBA champion Stephen Curry in a two-day rant that targeted top professional athletes.

Maxwell’s teammates stood in a line next to him as the anthem played before the A’s game against the Rangers. Teammate Mark Canha, who is white, put his right hand on one of Maxwell’s shoulders.

The A’s released a statement on Twitter shortly after the anthem, saying “The Oakland A’s pride ourselves on being inclusive. We respect and support all of our players’ constitutional rights and freedom of expression.”

Earlier Saturday, Trump doubled down on comments he made on Friday, tweeting: “If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL, or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect . . . . . . our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem. If not, YOU’RE FIRED. Find something else to do!”

— NEWSDAY STAFF & WIRE REPORTS

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