Around 5:15 on Thursday, the Orioles were totally committed to playing their game against the Rays.
About an hour later, the entire mood of the clubhouse had changed.
With another police shooting of an African-American man, this time of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, the NBA, NHL postponed games. The Orioles and Rays soon followed, as their game, scheduled for a 6:40 pm first pitch, was postponed to a later date.
Manager Brandon Hyde said the decision was unanimous to play the team’s game at his pregame media availability. After the meeting, more conversations were had during batting practice that led to the postponement.
“During batting practice, the clubhouse meeting we had sparked more conversations with players out on the field,” Hyde said. “Sounds like our guys talked a lot more after that and wanted to meet as a team. As we came in from batting practice, we had another clubhouse meeting, our guys expressed more of their thoughts on the situation, and I think there was a lot of people hurting in the room.”
The Orioles, as a group, decided to play Thursday’s game. A short while later, they decided as a group to sit out.
“Sometimes, it’s a little tough to speak up in such a big group setting with guys not having that seniority, or time, experience,” pitcher Dillon Tate said. “It just had to be a conversation that was sparked amongst the team, and guys being able to just sit and speak freely and be real with their thoughts and feelings. That was how things were able to come to a change as opposed to the first meeting we had.”
Hyde, Tate and pitcher Alex Cobb credited the conversations and thoughts players had during batting practice, after the original afternoon meeting for the postponement.
There, players who perhaps weren’t as comfortable speaking in front of the group voiced their concerns to other individuals, or small groups, and that led to a larger discussion.
“The guys are just trying to stand as one right now. Ultimately, we realize there is a lot of pain and guys are feeling hurt about the situation. We just want to stand with one another. Since one of us is feeling that way, or two of us, however many it may be, we’re all going to stand as one and make the same decision. That’s why we’re not playing.”
The entire team knew this was a possibility when they went to the ballpark, as the looming meeting in the afternoon waited. As it turned out, there would be two of them.
“It was one of those days where you woke up and felt like it was a different day, with what was going on,” Cobb said.
Tate, who is Black, emphasized it was the entire team that decided to not play Thursday night.
“I have a voice — just as the rest of my teammates do,” he said. “As far as being African-American, that does have something to do with it, yes. But me being a member of the team has more of a bigger piece in the picture. Just me being a member of the team is me having input, just as the other 25 guys we have there.”