Dominic Smith knelt during the national anthem prior to the Mets' matchup against the Miami Marlins on Wednesday.
The action came in light of the Jacob Blake shooting by police in Kenosha, Wis. The NBA and WNBA postponed all of their games on Wednesday as players began boycotting action in response to the shooting.
After the game, an emotional Smith discussed why he chose to kneel and how difficult the last few months in particular have been for him.
"Just with everything that's going on in the world, I just decided to take a little notice, and for the world to take a step back and really just see what's going on. That's why I chose tonight," Smith said. "I felt like tonight was the perfect night, especially with other teams canceling their games, especially looking at the NBA. They canceled all their games today, so I just wanted to make a stand like that and show my support."
Smith said that he didn't discuss his intentions to kneel with his teammates prior to the game, but Michael Conforto said afterwards that he wished he had been on the field with Smith to support his teammate.
"Obviously we support Dom and his views. He's been pretty outspoken about how he feels," said Conforto. "I actually walked past him, I didn't see that he was kneeling, and I told him I wished I had been out there with him..... We support him 100 percent no matter what he chooses to do."
Manager Luis Rojas also said that he fully supports Smith's decision as well.
SNY's Steve Gelbs spoke with Smith in June on his experiences of racism in the United States, in wake of the George Floyd's death, and protests across the country following.
"I've been very emotional to kinda see this continuously happen. It was a long day for me. Kind of wasn't there mentally, but we'll be alright," Smith said Wednesday.
"I think the most difficult part is to see that people still don't care," he added, with tears streaming down his face. "For this to continuously happen, it just shows just the hate in people's heart. That just sucks. Being a black man in America, it's not easy. I just wasn't there today, but I'll bounce back. I'll be fine."
Smith grew up in the inner-city of South Central Los Angeles, seeing first hand how children in that kind of environment aren't given the same chances as those from other areas.
As he explained in his interview with SNY, Smith makes a point to spend time with children from his hometown area whenever he can, working with his own foundation to give back to those in need.
"There's a lot of things we can do in the inner city to just bring happiness to children. There's a lot of kids in poverty," Smith said on Wednesday. "I have a foundation... we're in the inner cities, working with these kids. For me on the baseball side, we can do a ton of things that way. I like to set up Toys for Tots drives during the offseason, especially for the Christmas time. Do stuff for Thanksgiving....
"I like to just give my time. Money is just material things. I didn't grow up with money, so that s--t does't mean nothing to me. If you can give your time, I mean that's the thing that matters. That's why I feel so emotional about it. People get their money and they leave. You can't do that. You gotta be there for the children that's coming after us. I think that's the biggest thing. If we give our time, that's the only way we can change."
Smith was also asked if he thought about discussing with his teammates the possibility of boycotting the game, something a handful of other MLB teams elected to do on Wednesday.
"I love baseball. I love getting out there playing. That's my safe haven. And that's where I just get my mind off all the stress that goes on in my mind," Smith said. "I kind of didn't think too much into it, but I mean, that's something that I did think about afterwards, but in the moment, getting ready for the game, that's all I wanted to do, is to play a baseball game that I love."