Bruce Maxwell had an eventful three-year run with the Oakland A’s to begin his major league career after he decided to kneel during the national anthem in 2017, becoming the first and only MLB player to do so.
After struggling in 2018, Maxwell did not drum up interest as a free agent and instead spent the 2019 season in Mexico. The San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser caught up with Maxwell, who said he is still receiving criticism on social media:
“I had a few people on Twitter saying, ‘F— you, I still hope you die. I’m glad you’re not on our team, we don’t play kneelers.’ I was like, ‘Two years later y’all are still worrying about me?’ People say they wish I’d go away — then they take the time to find me, when I’ve completely removed myself from damn near every contact I’ve had, and I have a new Facebook, new Instagram. I’ve started over, and I’m really happy with who I’m looking at in the mirror every day, physically, emotionally.”
An anonymous baseball executive admitted last winter that “the kneeling thing” was preventing Maxwell from finding an MLB job. Maxwell stopped kneeling during the 2018 season and changed agents after going unsigned last winter.
After the first game where Maxwell took a knee in September of 2017, the A’s immediately issued a statement supporting his rights to freedom of expression.
“Proud of him for the fact that he went about it the way he did,” manager Bob Melvin said at the time.
A perceived double standard
Maxwell told the Chronicle that after he knelt — which he did to shine light on police and racial profiling — people saw him in a different way. He felt that he was seen a terrible person and awful human being for “standing up for what I believe in.” He compared his situation to those of Chicago Cubs infielder Addison Russell and New York Yankees reliever Aroldis Chapman, both of whom were suspended after domestic violence incidents but are still in the league.
“People say you have to be stand-up citizens, but guys who are taking steroids come back and they still have jobs, guys who beat their wives are back like nothing happened,” Maxwell said. “They pick and choose who they hold to a higher standard, and it’s bulls—.”
Maxwell was arrested in 2017 and charged with aggravated assault after he allegedly waved a gun at a food delivery person. He pled guilty to disorderly conduct and had the charges dropped.
After hitting .283 in his rookie season with the A’s, the catcher struggled in his next two seasons. In 2018, he played in 18 games and batted .182. Maxwell could not find any other team interested in his services afterwards, despite playing a valued position.
According to the Chronicle, Maxwell’s next move will be to play winter ball in the Dominican Republic.
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