Six-time All-Star and former league MVP Joey Votto dropped down to a knee during the national anthem Tuesday … continuing his promise to help raise awareness for social justice.
The Cincinnati Reds star joined three other teammates in the demonstration before they took on the Tigers in an exhibition game at Great American ballpark, and the scene was powerful.
Votto, Amir Garrett, Phillip Ervin and Alex Blandino all shifted to a knee when the pregame song began playing … while some of their Reds teammates showed support by placing their hands on their backs.
After the game, team manager David Bell — who stood next to the kneelers during the anthem — praised the guys … saying, “I know this situation is personal.”
“It’s emotional for all of us. I wanted them to know that they had my support.”
Votto — who didn’t speak with reporters after the game — has been extremely vocal in his support for racial equality following George Floyd‘s death in May.
The 36-year-old first baseman wrote an op-ed piece for The Cincinnati Inquirer in June … explaining how the nationwide protests after the Floyd tragedy made him realize he needed to join the fight for racial justice.
“I am awakening to their pain, and my ignorance,” Votto wrote in the piece. “No longer will I be silent.”
In addition to the kneeling … Votto has also been spotted wearing a Black Lives Matter t-shirt at team workouts this month.
As for the other kneelers … Garrett released a statement on social media after the game saying, “No matter how you twist this story, my intentions today were based solely on wanting change throughout this country.”
On Monday night, S.F. Giants players and coaches also knelt for the anthem before their exhibition game with the A’s … while in San Diego, a Los Angeles Angels pitcher dropped to a knee in the pregame ceremony before their tilt with the Padres.
As we previously reported … President Donald Trump wasn’t happy to see any of it — he tweeted early Tuesday morning, “Looking forward to live sports, but any time I witness a player kneeling during the National Anthem, a sign of great disrespect for our Country and our Flag, the game is over for me!”