Dominic Smith was a prominent figure in not only MLB, but all of sports in fighting against social justice issues in 2020.
But on the R2C2 podcast with former Yankee CC Sabathia and Ryan Ruocco, the slugger reflected on the night the Mets and Miami Marlins walked off the field in response to the Jacob Blake police shooting.
"I just felt like it was just time to finally stand up and make my stance, because I felt like the team, at that point, they weren’t paying attention to our community," Smith said. "They didn’t speak up or [were] willing to say much about it. They just wanted to proceed and keep playing baseball. That’s fine, we can play baseball, but I want to make my point and let everybody know that I’m here to stand for something, which is social justice and just fair equality for everybody. Just equal rights.
"That’s why I took the knee [during the national anthem]. It was a very emotional day for me. I cried while I was taking the knee. I cried after during the press conference."
After taking the knee, Smith got plenty of hate on social media.
"I kind of turned off my phone after that. My phone [was] just crazy for about 48 hours. It was just ringing off the hook, off the hook, and my comments, my DMs, people just talking nuts about me, talking nuts about my family. Reading all that type of stuff and then having to still go out and perform and play baseball, it was a rough week."
With Marcus Stroman opting out of the 2020 season due to coronavirus concerns, Smith was the lone Black player in the Mets' clubhouse. Temporarily, he was alone.
But that didn't last long.
"So many people from across the world reached out to me and showed their support. They’re the reason why I was able to get through that and really find the strength to just continue on with the season and continue to play, because it was a tough couple of days," Smith said.
The 25-year-old at first didn't want the attention to be all on himself. But after a team meeting the afternoon the Mets and Marlins walked off the field -- which he called a "shock" -- Smith knew he had the support of his teammates after a one-on-one meeting with Luis Rojas, and then eventually with his entire team.
"I got to the ballpark around 3 o'clock ... and our manager calls me into his office and said, ‘Hey, everybody on the team saw your press conference. We want to do something, we got your back, we want to show our support to the Black community, and we’re gonna show the support. ... I don’t know what we’re gonna do, but we gotta have a team meeting, and whatever decision you gotta come up with, we’re gonna run with it.’
"So we had a team meeting, and the whole team, they pretty much wanted me to know how much they had my back and I had their support."
Along with being shocked that the Mets and Marlins walked off the field, Smith was glad that his teammates wanted to educate themselves on racial injustice in the United States.
"After that, they started to ask me questions. They want to understand, and even sparking that conversation was something that I didn’t think would have happened last year. For us to move this far and in this amount of time. ... I’m just extremely happy, extremely blessed, but I’m just gonna keep pushing it forward."
It was a wild week for Smith, who said he had "anxiety" and "depression," but called the response from his teammates and the support from fans "super dope."
“Them having my back, obviously my family and everybody across the world reaching out. ... It really got me through that time.”