The Oakland A's and its bench coach, Ryan Christenson, apologized Thursday after he was seen making what appeared to be a Nazi salute from the dugout after a team victory.
Christenson said in a statement that the gesture was unintentional and that he was trying to modify the team's relatively new "elbow bump," which is being used to avoid hand-to-hand contact during the coronavirus pandemic.
The A's had just won a game 6-4 against the Texas Rangers when the coach was seen extending a straight arm up and forward and exposing his palm as others were doing elbow bumps to celebrate.
"I made a mistake and will not deny it," Christenson said. "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 is unacceptable, and I deeply apologize."
The team called the gesture "incredibly offensive."
"We are deeply sorry that this happened on our playing field," Oakland said in its statement.
Video of the incident shows A's pitcher Liam Hendriks returning to the dugout to celebrate and bending Christenson's arm so that his gesture did not mimic a straight Nazi-style gesture. Christenson is seen straightening his arm out once more.
According to San Francisco Chronicle A's reporter Susan Slusser, Christenson said that Hendriks told him at the time, "No, no straight arm, you have to bend your arm."
"Oh, I see what you mean, oh no, it's like 'Heil Hitler,'" Christenson said he responded.
"I apologize for everything," the coach told Slusser.