SEATTLE – While he didn’t start and end a media session in the tragedy’s aftermath with an impassioned speech similar to Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, Mariners manager Scott Servais has never been afraid to give his opinions on social issues in the United States, regardless of the response from fans.
But the understated Servais rarely makes such statements unsolicited.
If asked, he will provide thoughtful answers.
Saturday afternoon, four days after the tragic mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, Servais was asked about his thoughts on the recent events that have followed, including Giants manager Gabe Kapler deciding to remain in the clubhouse for the playing of the national anthem as a small form of protest to the country’s direction, and the Mariners’ decision to run messaging about gun control throughout their weekend series at T-Mobile Park.
“I can’t comment, or I don’t want to comment on Gabe,” Servais said. “I do know what’s going on in our country is not good. It’s very serious. There does need to be some reform and some things looked at in regard to gun control. When you look up at the end of the day, and there’s 21 people getting shot in school, a week or 10 days after the supermarket incident in Buffalo, I think it’s time for a country to do something.
“You want to be respectful, and I get the ‘moment of silence,’ but the ‘moment of silence’ is very empty. It’s time for people in our country and our legislators to do something about it. So that’s what Scott Servais thinks, I certainly respect what others think. But it’s time. It’s just time.”
The Mariners changed their Twitter avatar color to orange, which has become the defining color in the gun violence prevention movement, with a bio line: “End gun violence.”
It started after Hadiya Pendleton was shot and killed on a playground on Jan. 21, 2013. After her death at age 16, Pendleton’s friends commemorated her life by wearing orange, the color hunters wear to protect themselves from other hunters.
The “Wear Orange” became an official day on June 2, 2015, which would have been Pendleton’s 18th birthday. It has expanded to a period of three days each year: National Gun Violence Awareness Day (the first Friday in June) and Wear Orange Weekend (the accompanying weekend). This year, Wear Orange will take place from Friday to June 5.
During the weekend series vs. the Astros, the Mariners held a moment of silence in honor of the victims of gun violence. It was followed by a call to action with the names of four organizations: Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense in America (MomsDemandAction.org), Every Town For Gun Safety (everytown.org), Brady United (BradyUnited.org) and Sandy Hook Promise (SandyHookPromise.org).
Throughout the games, the Mariners’ videoscreen will display facts and figures about gun violence in bright orange and white to raise awareness and website information to get involved in the effort.
For example, in the third inning of Saturday’s game, the top corner of the video board read: “From 2009-2020, 1 in 4 mass shooting victims were children and teens.”
The roof lights of T-Mobile Park will be orange Friday for National Gun Awareness Day .
Servais said he believes the Mariners are right to take a step forward and be active in their messaging on this subject and others in the past.
“I think we should,” he said. “I think that hopefully we’re at a turning point in our country. I don’t know. I do know that the people that sit in the seats that make change, need to step back and look at what’s going on. And if they don’t make change, I’ve often said everybody has a voice, you have a vote. You vote for the people who are supposed to represent you and do the right thing. Those people need to do the right thing, or they don’t need to sit in those seats anymore. That’s how I feel.”
During the COVID-19 epidemic, Servais was outspoken about the need for his players to be vaccinated but also for the general public. He pushed vaccination education, even agreeing to have the Mariners bring in Dr. Vin Gupta and Dr. Santiago Neme of the University of Washington to present information and answer questions about the COVID-19 vaccines and their effects.
During the 2020 season, Servais would wear shirts about voting, the importance of voting and voter education.
“I think it’s a way for everybody to have a voice,” Servais said in August of 2020. “And I think we need to take it seriously. And it is a way for opportunity to make change. It’s something I continue to talk about with our players. I’d love to get all of our players registered and have them vote as well. I think it’s really, really important where we’re at right now.”
He led a personal drive to get all of his players registered to vote and participate in the 2020 election.
“It’s something I’m feel very strongly about,” he said. “You know, we talk about change throughout our country. It’s easy to talk about, but how do you actually make it happen? I think voting is one of the way you can make it happen.”
When Major League Baseball decided to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta after the passage of Georgia law S.B. 202, which critics believed would restrict voting access, Servais voiced his support.
“I absolutely agree with the decision,” Servais said on April 2, 2021. “Major League Baseball is doing the right thing. People are free to have their opinions on it. But with everything that’s gone on in our country – and I think people know how I feel about certain things – obviously, the ability to vote and how important that is for the future of our country, for everybody to get equal rights, that’s really, really important to me.”
Early in shortened 2020 season, Servais, who has always wanted his players to be themselves, encouraged them to speak openly and share their voices in the cause for social justice and battle against systemic racism following the death of George Floyd and the protests that followed.
“I’m proud of our players for speaking up about it,” he said at the time. “I think they’ve handled it really well. Some of the guys are more active on social media than others, and that’s fine. They’ve been very respectful and not afraid to give their opinion. I support everything they’re doing.”
With a roster that had more African American players than any other team in baseball at the time, he felt it was important for those players to share their thoughts and experiences with other teammates.
“The more we talk about it and the more comfortable we get, the more we understand,” he said. “And that’s important as a society. It’s something we are going to address a lot as a team, and it’s really no different than a lot of the other things we do, other than the fact that the history of what’s gone on here in our country needs to change.””