Oakland Athletics rookie catcher Bruce Maxwell became the first Major League Baseball player to kneel during the national anthem when he did so before Saturday night's 1-0 home victory against the Texas Rangers.

Maxwell, 26, dropped to a knee and pressed his cap against his chest just outside Oakland's dugout during the anthem, adopting a protest started by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in response to police treatment of blacks.

Maxwell pressed his right hand against his heart while facing the flag, and teammates stood in a line next to him. Teammate Mark Canha, who is white, placed his hand on Maxwell's shoulder, and the two hugged after the anthem finished.

"My decision has been coming for a long time," Maxwell, the son of a U.S. Army veteran, said after the game. "I know I was on the fence for a long time because I know no one in baseball has ever done it. I finally got to the point where I thought the inequality of man is being discussed, and it's being practiced from our president.

"The point of my kneeling is not to disrespect our military, it's not to disrespect our Constitution, it's not to disrespect this country. ... My hand over my heart symbolizes the fact that I am and I'll forever be an American citizen, and I'm more than grateful to be here. But my kneeling is what is getting the attention because I'm kneeling for the people that don't have a voice.