Behind Phillies' day off: Their hearts wouldn't let them play


Joe Girardi was already at Nationals Park on Thursday afternoon preparing to try to win a fourth straight game later that night when his phone rang.

Rhys Hoskins, the Phillies player representative, was on the other end.

After a 40-minute meeting back at the team hotel, Phillies players had concluded that they would not play Thursday night's game against the Washington Nationals.

There was too much going on in the real world, too much that hit home in that multicultural place that is a baseball clubhouse, too much that would take precedence over a ball game on this one night.

Girardi listened to what Hoskins had to say and told him:

"I got your back."

At the behest of the Phillies players, the game was officially postponed.

A dozen other teams followed suit and six more games from Thursday's slate were postponed.

The Phillies will get back to work Friday night at home against the Atlanta Braves. The Nationals will play Friday night in Boston.

Friday is Jackie Robinson Day.

"Jackie would want us to play tomorrow," Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. "He brought unity to this game."

The collective decision by Phillies players was all about unity. Every player is aware of the matters that grip the country — racial injustice and the desire to bring about social change.

Some of the Phillies players who are most passionate about these issues organized a players-only meeting at the team hotel after lunch Thursday, not long before the buses were to depart for the ballpark. Players spoke for 30 minutes. It was passionate. Some players became emotional.


"There were a few guys who were uncomfortable about playing," Hoskins said. "We met as players to discuss it. We wanted to make sure that whatever we decided we were doing it together, doing it as one.

"It's tough to see and hear some of these guys talk about going through things that I've never had to, that have never been on my radar, that affect strong black men on a daily basis. 

"We're all human beings. What players want, obviously, is change. Even if these are baby steps toward change, it feels like a win. That change starts with these conversations."

The Phillies' decision not to play was made independent of the Nationals.

Girardi reached out to Martinez at about 2:15 p.m. with the news.

In the wake of MLB and NBA postponements on Wednesday, Martinez thought something could be in the works Thursday and he planned on gauging his players' feelings when they arrived. Girardi's phone call beat him to the punch.

"Joe told me he supported his players and I told him I supported his organization and players because this is a brotherhood," Martinez said. "We bang heads on the field but it's important we stand together in this.

"Things have to change. There's ugliness in this world and it needs to be fixed. It needs to start now."

Girardi concurred and said there needed to be more love in the world. He said players had a platform to spread that message. 

"As a pro athlete you have a voice and that voice can be heard all over world," he said. "They hope to accomplish change."

The Players Alliance, a group of mostly African American players and former players devoted to racial justice and social change, announced that players in its organization would donate two days' pay to causes promoting social change.

Hoskins was asked if the entire Phillies roster planned anything similar.

"We're going to talk about something," he said. "Hopefully in the next couple of days we'll see some ideas come to fruition."

Girardi appeared side-by-side with Martinez at the socially distanced new conference.

Hoskins appeared side-by-side with Josh Harrison, a Nationals player and an African American.

It's not every day you see personnel from different teams on a dais together.

This was a remarkable day.

"It's a symbol of unity and love," Hoskins said of the joint news conference. "It's a brotherhood. We'll fight with each other and for each other."