San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler after his team completed a 5-2 victory over the Washington Nationals at in Washington D.C., April 23, 2022.
While the vast majority of leaders across the U.S. are offering little in the way of solutions and ideas after the massacre in Uvalde, Texas, other than “thoughts and prayers,” we can point to at least one person in a management role who’s speaking out and doing so loudly.
Last Friday, San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler announced that he wouldn’t appear on the field for the U.S. national anthem until he “[feels] better about the direction of our country.” He did take a one-day break from his protest during his team's game on Memorial Day, but as of press time he's indicated that he will continue to take a stand on gun violence, in his own way. On his blog, he added:
“We elect our politicians to represent our interests. Immediately following this shooting, we were told we needed locked doors and armed teachers. We were given thoughts and prayers. We were told it could have been worse, and we just need love.”
With those words, he has put his reputation and long-term career prospects at risk, though as of press time he still has some of his peers in Major League Baseball offering support. His stance came a day after the Twitter feeds of the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays posted facts about gun violence rather than game updates. Nevertheless, Kapler's move definitely made him the lone man on an island, or in the words of Tom Dart of the Guardian, "a liberal jock in America's most conservative league."
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A little background on Kapler: Before and during his middling pro baseball career, he was known more for his BMI (extremely low) than RBIs. So far, his career as a baseball manager has proven to be about the same. Though his teams in Philadelphia had improved compared to previous seasons, he didn’t exactly win over the Phillies’ fan base and was done after a couple of seasons. He did win manager of the year last season after the Giants cranked out a surprising season, but they lost to their rival Los Angeles Dodgers in the playoffs. Bottom line, his track record doesn’t remotely compare to revered baseball managers such as Joe Torre or Tony La Russa; the latter in particular has called out Kapler, saying while he supports the Giants' manager's sentiment, he also described Kapler's approach as "not appropriate."
Explaining his reasoning to avoid the field when the “Star Spangled Banner” is played — a sacrosanct tradition in professional baseball — Kapler explained moments of silence aren’t enough if we are to change our approach to gun safety in the land of the free and home of the brave, as he didn't hold back as he summed up the events in Uvalde:
“But we weren’t given bravery, and we aren’t free. The police on the scene put a mother in handcuffs as she begged them to go in and save her children. They blocked parents trying to organize to charge in to stop the shooter, including a father who learned his daughter was murdered while he argued with the cops. We aren’t free when politicians decide that the lobbyist and gun industries are more important than our children’s freedom to go to school without needing bulletproof backpacks and active shooter drills.”
This isn’t the first time Kapler has taken on the problem of violence in U.S. society, continuing what so far has been a solid track record of speaking up for those who often go unheard. He has run a foundation focused on taking on domestic violence. Currently, his work outside of baseball is to open up opportunities in sports to the LBGTQ community and people of color.
At a time when most business leaders are too spooked to take a stand on some of the most stubborn problems here in the U.S., even after the Uvalde massacre, Kapler has set the bar to what’s most likely and impossible height. Expect the personal attacks on him to continue unfettered on social media and news stories’ comments sections, not that many of the trolls would dare say anything to his face: Kapler, after all, is 6’2” with a BMI of 3.5 percent.
Image credit: All-Pro Reels via Wiki Commons
Leon Kaye has written for 3p since 2010 and become executive editor in 2018. His previous work includes writing for the Guardian as well as other online and print publications. In addition, he's worked in sales executive roles within technology and financial research companies, as well as for a public relations firm, for which he consulted with one of the globe’s leading sustainability initiatives. Currently living in Central California, he’s traveled to 70-plus countries and has lived and worked in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay.
Leon’s an alum of Fresno State, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California's Marshall Business School. He enjoys traveling abroad as well as exploring California’s Central Coast and the Sierra Nevadas.