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August 10, 2020 4:08 pm

Antisemitism ‘Rampant’ in Pro Baseball, Jewish Ex-Player Says After Nazi Salute Incident

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Coach Ryan Christenson of the Oakland Athletics gives an apparent Nazi salute following a win over the Texas Rangers. He later apologized. Photo: Screenshot.

A Jewish former professional baseball player has charged that antisemitism is “rampant” in the sport, in the wake an incident last week in which an Oakland Athletics assistant coach gave an apparent Nazi salute following a victory over the Texas Rangers.

In an extensive interview on Saturday with TMZ Sports, Cody Decker — a longtime minor leaguer who appeared in eight games for the San Diego Padres in 2015 — said that his own personal experience suggested that antisemitic prejudice was rife among players and fans alike.

“You think antisemitism is not rampant throughout baseball?” the 33-year-old Decker asked. “It’s a very, very, very Christian sport and not all of the players that are very, very Christian are the brightest of Christians. That’s not knocking Christianity by any stretch of the imagination, I’m just telling you what I’ve dealt with throughout my career by being called multiple Jewish slurs by fans, by teammates.”

Among the incidents Decker recounted included a minor league game against the Frisco Rough Riders in Texas, during which several members of the opposing team called him and fellow Jewish teammate Nate Freiman “kikes.”

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He also said he was once let go from a team a day after being called into a coach’s office to “explain my Judaism to him because he was born again Christian.”

Discussing last Thursday’s incident in which Oakland Athletics’ bench coach Ryan Christenson made a gesture akin to a Nazi salute, Decker declared, “If I was in that locker room, what I’d have to go into that office and have to do with that coach?! We would have to have a very harsh conversation or we would have to shut the door and maybe throw punches because that’s unacceptable. Plain and simple.”

Decker said that Christenson should “educate himself on the situation, understanding why this is so offensive, why this isn’t funny to people like me and honestly players like me. Let him know what I’ve been through that’s he’s never been through and what my family’s been through that his family luckily didn’t have to go through and why this is unacceptable.”

Christenson apologized for the gesture in a statement last week but said it had been unintentional.

“In the world today of Covid, I adapted our elbow bump, which we do after wins, to create some distance with the players,” Christenson said. “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.”

Decker, however, remained unimpressed.

“No, he did a Nazi salute. He did a Nazi salute twice,” Decker emphasized during his TMZ interview. “Let’s not sugarcoat around it, I really, really despise their response. I hate every half-measure response Major League Baseball always makes.”

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