Oakland Athletics bench coach Ryan Christenson has apologized for making what he says was an inadvertent Nazi salute following Thursday's win over the Texas Rangers.
Television cameras caught Christenson's gesture as the Athletics were leaving the field at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. He stood with his arm pointed upward and forward while players passed him by in celebration. Reliever Liam Hendriks nudged Christenson's arm down, at which point the coach stopped the gesture before momentarily making it again.
Christenson admitted to accidentally making the gesture and told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle: "I apologize for everything."
He later released an additional statement through the Athletics.
"I made a mistake and will not deny it," read Christenson's statement. "Today in the dugout I greeted players with a gesture that was offensive. In the world today of (COVID-19), I adopted our elbow bump, which we do after wins, to create some distance with the players.
"My gesture unintentionally resulted in a racist and horrible salute that I do not believe in. What I did is unacceptable and I deeply apologize."
Christenson normally celebrates wins by making a karate chop in the air with his arm, according to Slusser. He told Slusser he was attempting to do a chop and didn't realize he was making the offensive gesture until Hendriks told him, "No, no straight arm, you have to bend your arm."
Hendriks confirmed the coach's account of the incident to Slusser.
"Obviously I wasn't doing that intentionally," Christenson said. "I just blacked out, my mind wasn't there and I spaced out. I'm sure it looks terrible. I did it but it was not intentional. I don't know what more to say."
He continued: "I'm cringing inside picturing myself. Of course I'm sorry for it - it's like standing there with my middle finger up. Anyone should know better."
Christenson added that he's already spoken with A's general manager David Forst about the incident.
The Athletics said in a statement that the gesture "looked like a Nazi salute."
"We do not support or condone this gesture or the racist sentiment behind it. ... We are deeply sorry that this happened on our playing field," the team added.
Christenson, 46, spent parts of four seasons with the Athletics as a player and has served as Bob Melvin's bench coach since 2018.