Athletics

After special night, Chapman, Davis reflect on Fullerton connection

After special night, Chapman, Davis reflect on Fullerton connection

OAKLAND — Long before he starred for the Cal State Fullerton baseball team, Matt Chapman watched lots of Titans games as a kid and even served as a bat boy for the team.

One of the players that used to catch his eye in those days — current A’s teammate Khris Davis. What a special night it was Saturday for Chapman, who hit the first two homers of his career and then watched Davis launch a walk-off two-run homer to beat the Cleveland Indians 5-3.

Davis played at Fullerton from 2007-09. Chapman was done serving as a bat boy by then, but he watched Davis many times from the seats as a fan. Chapman would later star for Fullerton himself from 2012-14 and be the A’s top pick in the 2014 draft.

“The first time we met he told me my poster was up in the Fullerton locker room. It made me feel like a big deal,” Davis said in a deadpan manner.

That first encounter came during spring training 2016. Davis had just arrived in a trade from Milwaukee and Chapman was participating in his first big league spring camp.

“I kind of didn’t really think about any of it until I got to big league camp and started playing with him,” Chapman said. “It was cool to be able to watch him when I was younger and now play with him and just see the things that he’s capable of doing. He’s got some pretty special talents with that bat.”

Davis’ game-winner — the second walk-off homer of his career — was typical of his unique power. After Yonder Alonso drew a leadoff walk off Indians star closer Andrew Miller, the right-handed Bryan Shaw entered and Davis worked the count to full. On the seventh pitch of the at-bat, Davis got a cutter low in the zone and somehow drove it to the opposite field, a low liner that surprised even Davis when it cleared the right field wall. Davis came in 0-for-4 with four strikeouts against Shaw.

He takes particular pride in the homers he hits to the opposite field at the Coliseum, a home park known for being very tough for right-handers to show power to right.

“The ones that surprise are the ones that are really down the line, near the foul pole. Those ones are my favorites,” Davis said. “I’m just glad I could deliver in a big spot. The crowd was going crazy on Ricky Henderson Night. It was pretty cool.”

Bruce Maxwell: Kneeling for anthem not 'disrespecting my country or my flag'

Bruce Maxwell: Kneeling for anthem not 'disrespecting my country or my flag'

OAKLAND — Bruce Maxwell’s gesture to take a knee during the national anthem Saturday night at the Coliseum was no knee-jerk reaction by the A’s catcher.

It was something he’s considered for a long time, balancing his own personal convictions to make a statement with how it might affect his teammates and organization.

Think it was bold of Maxwell to become the first player in baseball to kneel during the anthem, in protest of racial discrimination and the inflammatory remarks of President Trump? It took just as much guts to stand before his teammates, manager Bob Melvin and GM David Forst and explain why he felt he needed to do it.

He did so in a pregame meeting Saturday that made for a degree of discomfort in the room, but also seemed to have played out in a healthy way.

“I didn’t want them to sugarcoat or aid me when it comes to the media and their personal feelings,” Maxwell said, “because the whole point of this is the ability to protest (based on) our personal beliefs and our personal choices.”

Many athletes have been critical of the President, with things intensifying across the sports landscape Saturday after Trump, among other things, withdrew an invitation for the Warriors to visit the White House and harshly criticized athletes who have knelt during the anthem, saying they should be booted off their teams.

After blasting Trump on both Instagram and Twitter, Maxwell took the field for the anthem and took the action that will define him in the eyes of the baseball world. Maxwell had been wanting to make a statement in some way. He said he and his sister dealt with racial discrimination growing up. Watching Trump’s rally play out in his hometown of Huntsville, Ala. on Friday further persuaded Maxwell to finally do so.

“This goes beyond the black community, it goes beyond the Hispanic community, because right now we’re having … a racial divide in all types of people,” said Maxwell, who is African American. “It’s being practiced from the highest power we have in this country and it’s basically saying it’s OK to treat people differently. And my kneeling, the way I did it, was to symbolize the fact that I’m kneeling for a cause. But I’m in no way or form disrespecting my country or my flag.”

A’s outfielder Mark Canha stood next to Maxwell during the anthem with his hand on Maxwell’s shoulder, a show of support. Canha said he’s considered kneeling before in protest himself but had chosen not to. As he listened to Maxwell address the team, Canha wasn’t going to let his teammate make his statement on his own.

“I could tell he was getting kind of choked up and emotional about his beliefs and how he feels about the racial discrimination that’s going on in this country right now,” Canha said. “I felt like every fiber of my being was telling me that he needed a brother today.”

Canha added that he sensed some “discomfort” in the room as Maxwell addressed the team. But he also said there was support.

“It was an open forum to ask him questions. It was as articulate as I’ve seen him,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “This wasn’t an emotional thing just today for him. … I think he handled it really well and everybody was comfortable after the session. I’m proud of him for the fact he went about it the way he did.”

Maxwell, who was born in Germany while his father served in the Army over there, said he will continue to kneel for the anthem. He doesn’t expect his teammates to do the same, only to stick to what they believe in.

“I have plenty of family members, including my father, who have bled for this country,” Maxwell said. “At the end of the day, this the best country on the planet. My hand over my heart symbolized that I am, and will forever be, an American citizen. But my kneeling is what’s getting the attention because I’m kneeling for the people that don't have a voice.”

MLB issues statement on A's Bruce Maxwell kneeling during national anthem

MLB issues statement on A's Bruce Maxwell kneeling during national anthem

A's catcher Bruce Maxwell made history Saturday night in Oakland. The 26-year-old became the first player in big-league history to kneel during the national anthem. 

Below is the official statement from Major League Baseball:

Major League Baseball has a longstanding tradition of honoring our nation prior to the start of our games. We also respect that each of our players is an individual with his own background, perspectives and opinions. We believe that our game will continue to bring our fans, their communities and our players together.

MLB media services contributed to this report