Oakland A’s bench coach Ryan Christenson apologized on Thursday evening following the A’s win over the Texas Rangers, after video surfaced of him appearing to give the straight armed, Nazi salute in the postgame handshake line.
Re: A’s bench coach Ryan Christenson
On its face, this looks like a Nazi gesture. I think it’s a guy who made and innocent mistake after a game w/cameras on him unless his life, words say otherwise.
Intent matters even when people are offended.
— George Wrighster III (@georgewrighster) August 7, 2020
The video quickly went viral, and had many asking for an explanation. Christenson and the A’s provided one, condemning the gesture but denying intent.
Christenson told the San Francisco Chronicle that he mindlessly made the gesture while the team was engaging elbow bump celebrations in lieu of handshakes due to COVID-19. Upon seeing what Christenson’s gesture, closer Liam Hendriks corrected him. Christianson stopped, appearing to understand what Hendriks was getting at, before doing it once more.
“No, no straight arm, you have to bend your elbow,” Christenson said Hendriks told him, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. “Oh, I see what you mean, oh no, it’s like ‘Heil Hitler.'”
“I made a mistake and will not deny it,” Christenson said in a statement. “Today in the dugout I greeted players with a gesture that was offensive. In the world today of Covid, I adopted 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 is unacceptable and I deeply apologize.”
“A’s bench coach Ryan Christenson greeted players with a gesture that looked like a Nazi salute,” the team said in the same statement. “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.”
— Oakland A's (@Athletics) August 7, 2020
Hendriks also chalks the incident up as a mistake.
“I know Ryan Christianson and what happened today was in no way a reflection of who he is,” Hendriks told Susan Slusser.