SAN DIEGO — Several colleagues of manager Gabe Kapler expressed their support after his decision to walk off the field during the national anthem in protest of this week’s shooting at an elementary school in southwest Texas.
Chicago White Sox manager Tony LaRussa said that while he agrees with Kapler that something has to be done, he doesn’t think playing the national anthem is the right time to protest.
“I think he’s absolutely right to be concerned … about what’s going on in our country,” La Russa said before his team hosts the Chicago Cubs on Saturday night. “He’s right there. Where I don’t agree is that the flag and the anthem are not appropriate places to try to voice his objections.”
La Russa reiterated his respect for Kapler’s intentions, but believes his protest is disrespectful to the men and women in the service.
“Part of their courage comes from what the flag means to them and when they hear the anthem,” La Russa said. “You have to understand what veterans think when they hear the anthem or see the flag. And the cost they paid and their families. And if you really understand that, I think it’s impossible not to salute the flag and listen to the anthem.”
Kapler, manager of the San Francisco Giants, indicated Friday that he does not intend to be on the field to hear the anthem until he feels “better with the direction of the country.”
“I don’t expect this to necessarily change anything. It’s just something I feel strongly about making this decision,” he explained.
A day after Kapler’s comment, no Giants uniformed person was on the field for the anthem during a 3-2 loss to the Cincinnati Reds.
On Tuesday, 19 children and two teachers were killed at a primary school in Uvalde, Texas. The multiple murder occurred 10 days after a gunman killed 10 black people in a supermarket in Buffalo, New York after exposing his racism.
Texas Rangers manager Chris Woodward called Kapler’s action “courageous.”
“I think we’re all frustrated, especially in this country,” Woodward admitted. “No one is happy. It’s not about which side you’re on. It’s that we have to be better as a society… I’m not really going to comment on whether I would have done the same as him”.
The Puerto Rican manager of the Boston Red Sox, Alex Cora, stressed that Kapler, his former teammate, has spoken openly about various issues.
“That’s why I’m proud of him. He is a good friend and the type of person that I respect from afar for what he does. If that’s what he does, good for him. I understand his motives,” Cora said.
Another Puerto Rican, Dave Martinez, said he is rarely on the field with the Washington Nationals during the anthem because of meetings and prep work.
New York Mets manager Buck Showalter said he respects “how Gabe feels and the way he expresses it.” Asked about Kapler, Philadelphia Phillies manager Joe Girardi said: “It’s up to Gabe. It’s all, he left it like that.”
Arizona Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo called Kapler a “humanist” and said he “is very supportive of what Gabe does.”
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Kapler “is very passionate about what he believes and how he protests … I think no one is happy with the direction of the country and I respect that they use any platform to address it.”
Information from Jesse Rogers of ESPN and The Associated Press was used in this report.
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Managers support Kapler protest, LaRussa differs