NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — The New York Mets and Miami Marlins held a moment of silence before jointly walking off the field, deciding not to play their scheduled game Thursday night in response to the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin.
There had been questions whether the game would proceed a day after Mets outfielder Dominic Smith's emotional postgame interview, in which he discussed his decision to for the first time kneel during the national anthem, and as several other Major League Baseball games were postponed to protest social injustice.
Just minutes before the scheduled first pitch Thursday, Smith and Billy Hamilton, the only two Black players in the lineup, led the Mets onto the field and took their positions.
As the umpires got into position, both dugouts emptied and every member of the Mets and Marlins took their caps off and bowed in silent prayer for 42 seconds. The emotional moment is especially poignant given that it comes on the eve of Jackie Robinson Day.
After finishing the moment of silence, both teams waved their caps at each other and walked off the field, with Lewis Brinson, the Marlins’ scheduled leadoff hitter, draping a Black Lives Matter T-shirt on top of homeplate.
“After seeing the comments Dom made last night, it’s not just about Dom, but it really touched all of us in the clubhouse,” Mets outfielder Michael Conforto said.
The moment came after Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen was seen in a leaked video criticizing MLB commissioner Rob Manfred for the idea of a symoblic walkout with an hour-long delay to the game, as opposed to a postponement.
Van Wagenen later issued an apology to Manfred and clarified that the idea was actually that of Mets COO Jeff Wilpon.
“Jeff Wilpon called Commissioner Manfred this afternoon to notify him that our players voted not to play. They discussed the challenges of rescheduling the game. Jeff proposed an idea of playing the game an hour later. I misunderstood that this was the Commissioner’s idea. In actuality, this was Jeff’s suggestion," Van Wagenen stated. "The players had already made their decision so I felt the suggestion was not helpful. My frustration with the Commissioner was wrong and unfounded. I apologize to the Commissioner for my disrespectful comments and poor judgement in inaccurately describing the contents of his private conversation with Jeff Wilpon.”
Manfred later issued his own statement saying, "Over the past two days, players on a number of Clubs have decided not to play games. I have said both publicly and privately that I respect those decisions and support the need to address social injustice. I have not attempted in any way to prevent players from expressing themselves by not playing, nor have I suggested any alternative form of protest to any Club personnel or any player. Any suggestion to the contrary is wrong."
Wilpon also said in a statement that the plan to walk off the field and return an hour later was his idea.
“To clear up any misunderstandings, it was my suggestion to potentially look into playing the game later because of scheduling issues. Brody’s misunderstanding of a private conversation was and is inexcusable. We fully respect our players and the Marlins players decision to not play tonight and appreciate the sincerity of all those who wish to draw attention to social injustices and racial inequalities that must be addressed. The entire Mets organization remains committed to creating meaningful change in our society," Wilpon said.
Mets Chairman of the Board and CEO Fred Wilpon also said in a statement, “I am very stressed and disappointed to learn tonight that our General Manager, Brodie Van Wagenen, made disrespectful and inaccurate comments about our Commissioner, a long-time close friend of mine. I hold Rob in the highest regard and in no way are Brody’s remarks reflective of my views or the organization’s. Rob continues to be a great leader of Major League Baseball. I apologize for any harm this incident has caused Rob.”
Seven games were postponed Thursday.
There is no word yet on when the Mets-Marlins game will be rescheduled.
NBA, NHL, and WNBA games were also not played.