A video online shows Christenson stretching out his arm at a 45-degree angle with his hand straight while players approach him for post-game elbow bumps.
Elbow bumps have been a common form of salutation amid the coronavirus pandemic as people avoid handshakes and high fives, but Christenson expressed regret for the way in which he had adapted the gesture.
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In the video, seen below, A’s closer Liam Hendriks appears to say something to Christenson while attempting to pull his arm down, at which point the bench coach points to the player and quickly repeats the motion.
Christenson said in a statement: “I made a mistake and I will not deny it.
“Today in the dugout I greeted players with a gesture that was offensive.
“In the world today of Covid, I adapted 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 was named bench coach under manager Bob Melvin, who is Jewish, in 2017.
The A’s said in their own statement: “Ryan Christenson greeted players with a gesture that looked like a Nazi salute. We do not support or condone this gesture or the racist sentiment behind it.
“This is incredibly offensive, especially in these times when we as a Club and so many others are working to expose and address racial inequalities in our country.
“We are deeply sorry that this happened on our playing field.”
Longtime A’s beat reporter Susan Slusser later speculated that Christenson was preparing to do his usual post-game karate chop celebration.
Christenson told her that A’s general manager David Forst called him about the incident after the game.