DETROIT – Twins players voted Thursday to sit out their scheduled game against the Tigers at Comerica Park.
The teams were scheduled to begin a four-game series here, but the first game was postponed when Twins players met and decided to take part in a nationwide pro sports strike to focus on racial justice issues, a work stoppage that temporarily shut down the NBA and NHL playoffs.
The game will be rescheduled as part of a Friday doubleheader, starting at 12:10 p.m. Both games are scheduled for seven innings.
“When we got together as a group, it was something the players wanted to do, which is when I think it’s most meaningful,” said Twins manager Rocco Baldelli. “The players shared things, it was almost initially said right off the bat, one of our players stood up and said, ‘I don’t believe we should play today,’ and that player was Taylor Rogers.
“Nelson Cruz spoke and Trevor May spoke … the players were in solidarity. We raised our hands and voted unanimously not play.”
Friday is MLB’s rescheduled “Jackie Robinson Day,” where all players wear Robinson’s No. 42, the only number retired by all major league teams.
The shutdown is a players’ protest to show solidarity following the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis. Blake was shot seven times in the back by a police officer attempting to subdue him.
Tigers players also voted Thursday in favor of a postponement.
“I didn’t feel like we should be playing baseball, and I’m really happy they voted this way,” said Detroit manager Ron Gardenhire.
Baldelli said he was in contact with Gardenhire during the day. The Twins met in an annex near the visitor’s clubhouse at Comerica at 2:45 Central for their vote, and Baldelli said the Tigers voted in a similar manner.
Twins players were not made available. May (@IamTrevorMay) tweeted, “Be an ally.”
“I’ve thought about that a lot, and I’ve thought about it even over the last few months, about what role you can play as a sports organization, as a franchise, as an organization that has a platform, that is viewed by a lot of people, that is watched,” said Twins President of Baseball Operations Derek Falvey. “Your behavior matters. The way we go about our business on the field, we think, is something that players and young kids are watching at home and thinking about, OK, they want to emulate.
“Maybe somebody’s going out there and asking — a younger child or another person is saying — ‘Well, why? I want to learn a little bit more about why they made that decision not to play.’ And maybe that’s a way to make an impact. It’s a small way.
“We’re not saying that’s going to solve all of these challenges. But if we have a chance to use our platform as an organization to potentially call attention to the why and as a result, a few more people get educated by that and we can talk about it a little more and our players can, and we’re standing behind members of our community that are really hurt by some of what has transpired, not just in the last six months, but for a long time, then I think that’s our responsibility.”
The Twins issued this statement: “The Minnesota Twins remain committed to using our platforms to push for racial justice and equality. Therefore, we fully respect our players for their decision to not play tonight’s game vs. the Detroit Tigers. The recent shooting of Jacob Blake, a mere three months after the killing of George Floyd, shows again that real change is necessary and far overdue in our country, and it is our responsibility to continue playing a role in efforts to affect meaningful reform.
“We stand in solidarity with the Black community and, as full partners with others in the Twin Cities and beyond, we are committed to creating the change we want to see in the world — where everyone is protected, safe and welcome. There is no place for racism, inequality or injustice in our society.”
Four other Thursday major league games — Boston-Toronto, Philadelphia-Washington, Texas-Oakland and Arizona-Colorado — have also been postponed.