4 Reds players, including star first baseman Joey Votto, kneel during national anthem

Posted at 7:25 AM, Jul 22, 2020

CINCINNATI — Four Cincinnati Reds players knelt during the national anthem before an exhibition game against the Detroit Tigers at Great American Ball Park Tuesday night.

Among the players kneeling in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement were Joey Votto, the Reds' star first baseman, pitcher Amir Garrett and left fielder Phillip Ervin.

Garrett recently said he was reluctant at first to speak out in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, but he now says he's found his voice and calls for an end to racial injustice.

"I was scared to talk about these injustice issues we were having because in baseball, there's not a lot of African Americans that play the game, and I was nowhere near Kaepernick (in prominence)," Garrett said. "I felt I could be pushed out of the game. That was really scary for me."

Since the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis earlier this year, Votto has been an outspoken supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement. Earlier this month, he was seen wearing a Black Lives Matter shirt during a workout.

"I think I've changed as a man. I feel my perspective has changed," Votto told the Associated Press earlier this month. "I didn't want to (speak up), but I couldn't sleep. There was a long stretch where I couldn't sleep. When it affects me that deeply, I felt strongly about saying something and learning. Every day I'm trying to learn."

The demonstration by Reds players came a day after several members of the San Francisco Giants knelt for the national anthem prior to an exhibition on Tuesday. Among the Giants players who knelt were outfielder Hunter Pence, infielder Pablo Sandoval and rookie Mauricio Dubón, as well as manager Gabe Kapler.

The Giants' demonstration prompted a response from President Donald Trump, who said that when any player or coach kneels for the anthem ahead of a sporting event, "the game is over for me."

The Reds defeated the Tigers 9-7 during Tuesday's game. Cincinnati opens the MLB season against Detroit this Friday at 6:10 p.m.

This story was originally published by WCPO in Cincinnati.