WASHINGTON — Though it was the novel coronavirus that delayed Major League Baseball’s Opening Day by nearly four months, the social reckoning that occurred along the way could not be ignored before it was time to play ball.

In a coordinated gesture between the reigning World Series champion Washington Nationals and New York Yankees before the first major league game played this year Thursday night, players clutched a black cloth that winded from the Nationals’ first base line around to the Yankees on the third-base line.

Then, before a pre-recorded rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner, every player and coach out for pregame introductions took a knee on the grass, for about 20 seconds.

With no fans in the stands as baseball re-starts while mitigating the risks and worries of COVID-19, the park was particularly silent for the moment, which comes nearly two months after the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. The subsequent protests that galvanized the Black Lives Matter movement and precipitated a global racial awakening of sorts found its way to baseball.