Yankees and Nationals kneel before the national anthem

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WASHINGTON – Everyone from the Yankees and Nationals got down on their knees… before the national anthem.Major League Baseball’s long-awaited opening night featured a pre-game ceremony at Nationals Park that recognized a social issue that has grown in importance since the death of George Floyd in police custody. Minneapolis in May.

The entire Yankees and Nationals rosters stood on their respective baselines as the Player’s Alliance video – featuring Yankees Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton as well as retired CC Sabathia was shown . Then came the “moment of unity,” as conceived by former Yankee and current Phillie Andrew McCutchen: a 200 yard piece of cloth going from first to third via home plate, each man holding it, like Oscar winner. Actor Morgan Freeman expressed words that will be shared as each stadium opens:

“To achieve effective change and create a new web of optimism, empathy must lead the charge. This moment signifies our charge. Our fraternity. Our unity. Equality and unity cannot exist until there is empathy.

Aaron Judge (center) and other Yankees kneel before the national anthem ahead of Thursday night's game against the Nationals.
Aaron Judge (center) and other Yankees kneel before the national anthem ahead of Thursday night’s game against the Nationals.Getty Images

“Today and every day, we come together as brothers. As equals, all with the same goal – to level the playing field. To change injustices. Equality is not just a word. It’s our right! Today we are men from 25 nations on six continents.

“Today we are one.”

With that, everyone knelt down – some on their knees, some against one – before standing up for the national anthem.

Next, the teams turned to preparation for the game, with Yankees players sporting badges on their left shoulder (above the patch saluting recently passed owner Hank Steinbrenner) reading “Black Lives Matter,” “United For Change ” or both.

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