After taking the field to finish their series against the Cubs Wednesday night, the Detroit Tigers reconsidered their approach Thursday.
The sports world has followed the Milwaukee Bucks’ lead in protest after Sunday’s police shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin. Following their win over the Cubs, Tigers players began exchanging text messages and phone calls to discuss how they should proceed as a team. Three MLB games were postponed Wednesday, creating an air of uncertainty entering Thursday’s slate.
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It led to an emotionally charged clubhouse meeting hours before the Tigers were scheduled to play the Twins on Thursday. Players ultimately decided it didn’t feel right to play. Tigers personnel listened, and after meeting with the Twins, they phoned the league to tell them they would protest the game.
Thursday’s scheduled 7:10 p.m. game between the Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins at Comerica Park was postponed to protest racial injustice and inequality, the teams announced.
The game will be made up Friday at 1:10 p.m. as part of a seven-inning doubleheader. The Tigers and Twins were set for a four-game series Thursday-Sunday.
“Over the course of the night, there were a lot of phone conversations and text messages between our players and trying to make sense of what’s going on,” Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire told reporters. “They told me they had a lot of conversations late in the night over the phone and texting about how hard it was to play last night and they were happy they did play last night because it took their minds off things. When they start thinking about what’s going on in this country and what some of our players are going through, that was the conversation today that everybody was able to get it out instead of holding it in in front of everybody. It was a really good meeting and that made the difference.
“Honestly it was so emotional in there, I don’t know if we could’ve played baseball.”
In addition to the Tigers and Twins, the Red Sox and Blue Jays, Athletics and Rangers and Phillies and Nationals have all postponed their games. WNBA players are also on strike, and the NHL postponed its Thursday playoff games.
It all reflects an altered sports landscape in the wake of the events that have taken place in Kenosha, Wisconsin this week. In addition to the police shooting of Blake, 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse shot and killed two protesters on Tuesday.
In a statement, the Twins addressed their decision to protest Thursday’s game. The statement also alluded to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis earlier this summer, which hit close to home for them.
“We stand in solidarity with the Black community and, as full partners with others in the Twin Cities and beyond, we are committed to creating the change we want to see in the world – where everyone is protected, safe and welcome,” the statement read. “There is no place for racism, inequality or injustice in our society.”
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Gardenhire said Tigers outfielder Camerin Maybin, who is Black, was among the most outspoken during their clubhouse meeting. Gardenhire, who coached the Twins from 2002 to 2014, added that what happened to Floyd was “terrible,” and being around his players has helped to educate him on the racial inequality prevalent within the country.
“They were concerned and hurt,” he said. “We knew it was going to be a really tough time to get out on the baseball field. A lot of people stepped up to talk and it’s one of those things that meant a lot to us. We wanted to reaffirm how much we have our players’ backs and we try to understand what they go through on a day-to-day basis.
“It was really nice to have them talk and let us know what they go through during that meeting. We’re a good group here, good bunch of guys who really care for each other. It was evident in the meeting today.”