Bruce Maxwell

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Bruce Tyrone Maxwell III

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Biographical Information[edit]

Catcher Bruce Maxwell made his major league debut in 2016.

Maxwell hit .471/.619/.928 with 25 doubles, 15 homers and 59 walks his last year at Birmingham-Southern College. He won the ABCA Player of the Year for NCAA Division III, only the second catcher to win that honor (Gerard Haran had won in 2006). He led the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference in average, OBP, slugging, doubles, runs (56), total bases (142) and home runs while also setting the record in walks. He led Division III in walks (by 14), OBP (by .012), slugging (by .056), doubles (tied) and homers (by 1) and was 4th in average. The Oakland Athletics took him in the second round of the 2012 amateur draft; the pick was compensation for the loss of Josh Willingham to free agency. He was the 62nd pick of the draft, the second in round two. The scout was Kelcey Mucker.

After a quick pro start with the AZL Athletics (.524/.615/.714, 8 R in 6 G), he was moved up to the Vermont Lake Monsters, for whom he hit .254/.329/.316. He led New York-Penn League catchers with 332 putouts and 18 passed balls. Baseball America ranked him as Oakland's #23 prospect. In 2013, he was with the Beloit Snappers (.286/.360/.387 in 57 G) and Stockton Ports (.263/.335/.394). He replaced David Freitas on the Mesa Solar Sox late in the Arizona Fall League, going 0 for 4 in his lone game.

Maxwell opened 2014 back with Stockton and hit .273/.365/.381 in 79 games, throwing out 39.6% of attempted base-stealers, second-best in the California League. He was 0 for 2 in the Cal League All-Star Game. Promoted to the Midland Rockhounds, he sputtered at .141/.223/.176 with 32 K in 85 AB and was 0 for 2 in the postseason as Midland won the Texas League title.

Maxwell posted a .243/.321/.308 batting line for Midland in 2015 and fielded .997 to lead TL backstops. He hit .250 with three walks in four postseason games as they repeated as champs. After going 4 for 10 with a homer and walk for the A's in spring training in 2016, he took a break to play for the German national team in the 2017 World Baseball Classic Qualifiers (he had been born in Germany when his father was stationed there on military duty). He was Germany's top hitter, going 4 for 8 with a walk, double, homer and four RBI in their two games. His three-run dinger off Nicaragua's Samuel Estrada scored Donald Lutz and Ludwig Glaser to put Germany up 3-2 in the 6th of the opener, but they blew it in the 9th and 10th for a 5-4 loss. He led the Mexico qualifying pool in average (.038 over Mike Cervenak), was second in OBP (after MLB superstar Adrian Gonzalez), led in slugging (.300 ahead of Jakub Malik), led in OPS (356 over Malik) and tied Esteban Quiroz and Cervenak for 4th in RBI.

He remained on a roll when he started 2016 hot with the Nashville Sounds (.321/.393/.539, 10 HR in 60 G). He got called up to the majors when Stephen Vogt went on family leave. Maxwell made his debut as a pinch-hitter for Matt McBride on July 23rd, grounding out against Matt Andriese of the Tampa Bay Rays. In 33 games for Oakland, he hit .283 with 1 homer and 14 RBIs. With Nashville, he finished the year at .321 with 10 homers and 41 RBIs in 60 games. In 2017, he split time between Nashville and Oakland over the early months until on June 22nd, the A's took the surprising decision of letting go the two-time All-Star Vogt in order to give him some extended playing time. The A's were going nowhere and figured there was an opportunity to see whether some of the players within their organization would be able to prove their mettle at the major league level. On September 23rd, he made news for becoming the first MLB player to join a movement started by Colin Kaepernick of the NFL, by kneeling during the playing of the National Anthem before a game, to protest the treatment of African-Americans by police. In Maxwell's case, as he explained in his social media account, he wanted to protest the racial divisiveness preached by President Donald Trump, who had incidentally expressed his disgust for the kneeling movement in a speech a day earlier and, in his usual subtle manner, had urged NFL owners to fire all players taking part. Maxwell received support from both his teammates and organization for his stand, with the A's issuing a statement that they pride themselves on being inclusive and respect and support their players' constitutional rights and freedom of expression. Teammate Mark Canha put his hand on Maxwell's shoulder to express his support of his stance, and Chris Archer stated that he "agreed with his message." He was the A's most-used catcher that season, playing in 76 games during which he hit .237 with 3 homers and 22 RBIs.

Following the season, on October 28th, he was arrested in his hometown of Scottsdale, AZ for allegedly pointing a gun at a female food delivery person. It was not the first incident in a troubled off-season for him, as a week earlier, he had accused a waiter in Alabama, his state of birth, to have refused him service over his political stance after recognizing him, a story which the waiter said was made out of whole cloth. Regarding the gun incident, police reported that it had taken place at Maxwell's residence; the delivery person arrived with a food order and was greeted by an apparently inebriated Maxwell pointing a 9-mm handgun. The woman immediately left the premises and contacted police. He was charged with disorderly conduct and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and was let out on bail. Heading into spring training in 2018, he explained that he would not resume his kneeling during the National Anthem, as he felt he had achieved his purpose of "raising awareness about social issues affecting our country." He was the presumptive starter for the A's when spring training started, but the situation changed three weeks into camp as the A's signed veteran Jonathan Lucroy, who was immediately installed as the starter. On April 13th, he reached a plea deal over the off-season gun incident, pleading guilty to disorderly conduct, resulting in likely probation and a need to perform community service. One of the results of the guilty plea was that while he was awaiting sentencing, he became ineligible for a work visa to Canada without going through a special approbation process; he therefore had to stay home while the Athletics visited the Toronto Blue Jays on May 17-20. On July 2nd, he was sentenced to two years of probation. He played just 18 games for the A's that season, hitting .182. He spent more time at AAA Nashville, where he hit .219 in 51 games.

In 2019, he went to the Mexican League for a season and found his hitting stroke again as he hit .325 with 27 doubles and 24 homers while driving in 112 runs in just 109 games for the Acereros de Monclova. He then played with two different winter league teams in the off-season. He was hoping that this solid performance would open some doors for him to get back into the major leagues in 2020, but the Coronavirus pandemic struck before he had been able to find a team. His name was back in the news after the murder of George Floyd by a policeman in Minneapolis, MN that May, as many journalists pointed out that he had been the only major league player to take a public stance back in 2017. The positive publicity probably helped him to get another shot, as he was signed by the New York Mets on July 30th, who added him to their player pool.


Further Reading[edit]

  • Uriel J. Garcia and Blaine McCormick: "Oakland A's catcher Bruce Maxwell held in Scottsdale on suspicion of pointing gun at woman", "AZCentral", The Arizona Republic, October 29, 2017. [1]
  • Gabe Lacques: "Oakland A's catcher Bruce Maxwell first MLB player to kneel during national anthem", USA Today Sports, September 23, 2017. [2]
  • Jane Lee: "Maxwell to stop kneeling during anthem: A's catcher was only MLB player to join in symbolic protest last year",, February 13, 2018. [3]
  • Jane Lee: "Maxwell fine to serve as A's reserve catcher",, March 13, 2018. [4]
  • Jorge L. Ortiz: "For A's Bruce Maxwell, protest during anthem a result of careful introspection", USA Today Sports, September 24, 2017. [5]

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