WATCH: Cardinals explain why they took the field and didn't boycott last night's game

By NewsRadio 1120 KMOX

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - As games in the NBA, WNBA, MLS and MLB were boycotting and postponed as a protest of social injustices in the U.S. the St. Louis Cardinals held a "mini meeting" just minutes before first pitch of their Wednesday night game against the Kansas City Royals. 

It was called so late, that some players and manager Mike Shildt weren't on the field for the playing of the National Anthem. The final decision of that meeting was for the team to play the game, but for Jack Flaherty and Dexter Fowler to leave in support of the protest. 

Shildt and some players explained after the game how that decision came to be made:

"We thought that collectively, of course we support Dex and Jack and anything that they wish to do, but we have a lot of ball to play," outfielder Tyler O'Neill says. "It's a lot of doubleheaders coming up and we didn't think it was best to tack on another one." 

Second baseman Kolten Wong says he noticed Fowler starting to change out of his uniform and figured he wasn't going to play. 

"You could see it was tough on him," Wong says. "We stand behind Dex. We stand behind Jack. Those are our teammates. Those are our brothers. We love those guys and at the end of the day, this is bigger than baseball. A lot of things are happening now that are not pretty and a lot of injustices. And we love those guys, we have their back and tonight was a great example of playing for those dudes.

"We respect those guys, we respect the decision. We understand the circumstances that are happening in the world right now, and we’re going to go out there and play for Dex and Flaherty, and that’s what we did."

Shildt says when the group got together in the clubhouse he was not a part of their meeting.

"They asked my opinion," Shildt said after the Cardinals’ 6-5 walk-off victory. "And I said I will stand behind anything this clubhouse decides."

#STLCARDS WALK-OFF WINNER!------The @Cardinals were down by 3 runs going into the bottom of the 9th, then came back to beat the Royals 6-5 last night. Open to hear how it happened on #KMOXRewind: Today Sports Images)

— KMOXSports (@KMOXSports) August 27, 2020

He met individually with both Fowler and Flaherty before they left. Both players went to their respective homes, per MLB COVID-19 protocol. Shildt says they indicated they will return for Thursday’s game.

"Tough decision for Dex," Shildt said. "I know he took it very serious. We talked about it. I said 'Look, man, I support you completely with your decision and I appreciate the solidarity, and we are behind you.'"

In a text to Post-Dispatch writer Derrick Goold, Fowler reportedly stated: 

"Tonight I decided to take a stance alongside the Black community and athletes across the country in our continued fight against police brutality and systemic racism. While this is an extremely personal issue, I am hopeful that my small action can shed light on the larger issues that are ongoing throughout the country.
"I’m forever grateful and lucky to be a Major League Baseball player. But tonight, I needed to use my platform for something bigger than me and bigger than the game."
The Cardinals issued a statement in support of the decision made by Flaherty and Fowler.

— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) August 27, 2020

Fowler was in the starting lineup before he chose to leave, but Flaherty wasn't going to appear in the game. opted to sit out the game in solidarity with other players around the league in

It was in protest of the shooting in Kenosha, Wiscoinsin of Jacob Blake, a Black man, who was shot seven times in the back by police on Sunday. Three major league games were postponed Wednesday in decisions driven by players.

St. Louis has a doubleheader on Thursday against the Pirates that begins at 2:15 p.m.

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