Ryan Christenson appears to raise his arm in mock Nazi salute as the Oakland Athletics leave the field after a win over Texas.
The Oakland Athletics, a team that prides itself in blending into the diverse community with a variety of social initiatives and is located in arguably the most liberal and demonstrative city in the American League, has suffered an on-field indiscretion that displayed unthinkable racial insensitivity.
Former Oakland player and current bench coach Ryan Christenson was seen on the warning track just outside of the A’s dugout immediately after closer Liam Hendriks returned to the dugout having sealed a 6-4 win over the Texas Rangers for his fourth save. As players and coaches gathered for a socially distanced celebratory elbow bump, Christianson held his right arm straight at an angle, reminiscent of the Nazi salute synonymous with the Adolph Hitler regime.
Hendriks was visibly upset and pushed Christianson’s arm aside and returned with an elbow bump. Christenson, who could be seen laughing at the incident, seemed unaware of its insensitive nature.
In a statement released after the game on August 7, Christenson wrote “I made a mistake and will not deny it. Today in the dugout I greeted players with a gesture that was offensive. In the world today of COVID, I adapted our elbow bump, which we do after wins, to create some distance with the players. My gesture unintentionally resulted in a racist and horrible salute that I do not believe in. What I did was unacceptable and I deeply apologize.”
The team released a statement that said “A’s bench coach Ryan Christenson greeted players with a gesture that looked like a Nazi salute. We do not support or condone this gesture or the racist sentiment behind it. This is incredibly offensive, especially in these times when we as a Club and so many others are working to expose and address racial inequities in our country. We are deeply sorry that this happened on our playing field.”
The gesture was captured on game video and quickly spread to social media and began a rise through various platforms including Twitter.
On the evening of Aug. 6, San Francisco Chronicle A’s beat writer Susan Slusser reported on Twitter that she had received a message from Hendriks that read “I know Ryan Christianson and what happened today was in no way a reflection of who he is.”
Christenson, 46, was born in Redlands, Calif., attended college at Pepperdine University and was drafted by the Oakland Athletics in the 10th round of the 1995 Major League Baseball draft. He played for Oakland as a utility player from 1998 to 2001 and finished his career with the Rangers in 2003. After managing in the A’s minor league farm system for five years, Oakland manager Bob Melvin hired him to become a major league bench coach before the 2018 season.