Astros, A’s join in nationwide protest against social injustice

On a day when thousands gathered at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington to decry social injustice, the Oakland A’s and the Houston Astros joined together Friday to engage in a peaceful demonstration of their own at Minute Maid Park.

After a moment of silence, a Black Lives Matter T-shirt was laid across home plate, and then both ball clubs left the field.

As such, it became the 11th game in Major League Baseball in the last three days to be postponed in the wake of issues related to police brutality against Black citizens.

“I’m proud of this generation because in the ’60s, it was mostly African Americans and a few white Americans that stood up, but in this day and age, I’m seeing young people of all nationalities and all religions that are standing up together,” Astros manager Dusty Baker, who is Black, told the Associated Press. “The young people are a voice to be heard in the country, and I’m very, very proud of the young people in this country.”

The decision not to play came on Jackie Robinson Day in the major leagues.

It also came on the third day of protests by professional athletes in four U.S. sports leagues since Jacob Blake, a Black man, was shot by police in Wisconsin last weekend.

Robinson is known for breaking the color barrier in the major leagues when he took the field for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. All Astros and A’s players were wearing jersey’s with Robinson’s No. 42 when they took the field.

Normally, Jackie Robinson Day is held in April, to commemorate the day that Robinson played his first game. But when the early part of the season was scrapped because of the coronavirus pandemic, baseball elected to hold it on Aug. 28.

The date was selected for two reasons, according to MLB.com.

First, it’s the anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963, which the Robinson family attended. It is also the date in 1945 when Robinson met with Branch Rickey to discuss his future as a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Jackie Robinson Day is always a festive day in the majors. But on Friday at Minute Maid Park, it took on a more somber tone, as a nod to the tragedy that left Blake paralyzed and a nation in anguish.

“I woke up this morning, and I’ve always known the story of Jackie Robinson, but I had a different view today,” A’s manager Bob Melvin told the AP, referring to how much he is learning about racial injustice. “I was angry today. I was sad. I was all of the above. So I was looking forward to putting this jersey on. I have the utmost respect for No. 42 and his play.”

Former UTSA pitcher blanks Astros in MLB debut

Justin Anderson, making his major league debut, pitched a scoreless eighth inning Monday night in the Los Angeles Angels’ 2-0 victory over the world champion Houston Astros.

After retiring the first two batters he faced, the former right-handed pitcher for the UTSA Roadrunners yielded singles to George Springer and Jose Altuve.

Next, Anderson faced Carlos Correa with runners at first and third.

But with the Astros’ home crowd in Houston roaring, he didn’t flinch, striking out Correa on a slider to preserve his team’s two-run lead.

A television replay showed a group of friends and fans cheering with enthusiasm as Anderson, a Houston native, walked off the field.

It was the end of a wild day for Anderson, who was called up to the majors from Triple A on Sunday.

Before the Angels-Astros game, he told the Orange County Register that he “broke down” when he got the news of his promotion.

In the next 24 hours, his life was turned upside down, as family and friends touched base to offer congratulations.

“So far it’s been pretty crazy,” Anderson told Jeff Fletcher of the Register. “My phone is blowing up.”

The former Houston schoolboy, who pitched at UTSA from 2012-14, is the second former Roadrunners player to make it to the major leagues.

He follows catcher and former UTSA teammate John Bormann, who made it up for one game with the Pittsburgh Pirates last April.

“I am just proud of Justin and his accomplishment,” UTSA coach Jason Marshall said in a text. “It’s a boyhood dream that so many young guys have but so few ever realize it.”

Anderson, 25, was selected on the 14th round of the 2014 draft out of UTSA.

He started the 2017 season at Inland Empire of the Class A California League and moved up later to the Mobile BayBears, a Class AA team in the Southern League.

This spring, he started at Mobile and recently was pulled up to the Triple-A, Pacific Coast League Salt Lake Bees.

In three appearances for Salt Lake, the 6-3, 220-pound right-hander didn’t allow a run or a hit in five innings over three games.

He struck out six and walked one.

“We’ve seen him for a number of years,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia told the Register. “The reason he’s here is not so much us seeing him, but the adjustments he’s made, using the experience to improve.

“Right now he’s made some big strides, from spring training to now.”

Clearly, it was a moment to savor for Anderson, who was a sophomore in 2013, when Marshall led the Roadrunners to the NCAA tournament in his first year as head coach.

“Justin has continued to make strides through the Angels’ organization, and to be afforded a debut in his hometown and in front of his parents, extended family and friends, I’m sure it’s a memory of a lifetime for him,” the coach said.

Anderson came out of Houston St. Pius X High School and played his first season at UTSA in 2012, when he finished 3-2 in 11 appearances.

He was 0-1 in limited duty in 2013. But by the next season, he started to attract attention, fashioning a 4-5 record with a 2.92 ERA.

Anderson’s call up comes three days before the NFL Draft, when defensive end Marcus Davenport from UTSA is expected to be selected, potentially in the first round.

“It’s one of the most important markers in the life of a college baseball program to have young men reach the pinnacle of the sport,” Marshall said. “As UTSA grows and the athletic programs reach new heights, you are going to see more and more of our athletes play on the big stage.

“For Justin to reach the big leagues just goes to show that the road can start in San Antonio at UTSA, and Major League Baseball is attainable for aspiring young players.”