An apparent Nazi salute was just an example of “rampant” anti-Semitism in baseball, according to a former player.
Oakland Athletics bench coach Ryan Christenson has apologized for raising his arm straight out Thursday in what appeared to resemble a Nazi salute during a postgame celebration, but Cody Decker says it’s not necessarily anything new.
“I mean the amount of Nazis jokes I’ve dealt with throughout my entire career is pretty staggering,” Decker, who is Jewish, told TMZ Sports.
Decker, 33, was drafted by the Padres in 2009 and spent most of his career in the minor leagues before retiring in 2019. He also twice represented Team Israel during the World Baseball Classic.
While Christenson said his salute “unintentionally resulted in a racist and horrible salute that I do not believe in,” it was an all-too-familiar situation for Decker.
“If you think anti-Semitism is not rampant throughout baseball!? … It’s a very, very, very Christian sport and not all of the players that are very, very Christian are the brightest of Christians,” Decker said. “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.”
The A’s called Christenson’s “offensive” and said they do not support “the racist sentiment behind it.”
The 46-year-old former outfielder said it was a byproduct of the COVID-19 restrictions in the game, with handshakes or high-fives being replaced by elbow bumps, but knows he was in the wrong.
Decker said he believes a suspension would be fair for Christenson, who was not publicly penalized by the team.
“I would like him to 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,” Decker said. “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.”