By Hollie McKay
Published October 26, 2017
Oakland A’s catcher Bruce Maxwell, 26, claimed this week that a waiter in his Alabama hometown of Huntsville refused him service after identifying him as the MLB player who took the knee during “The Star Spangled Banner” last month — only the waiter has a very different version of events and he told Fox News that was far from what went down.
“He is outright lying. This is really upsetting as he was given full service, I didn’t even know who Bruce Maxwell was,” Matt Henry, a 42-year-old waiter at Keegan’s Public House, told Fox News. “This all started because I carded his friend who wanted to order a beer.”
According to Henry, an Alabama native, Maxwell was dining with local Democratic councilman Devyn Keith and another friend who produced an expired ID, and the server refused to serve him a drink — which upset the friend, who followed him into the kitchen.
“He asked me, 'Don’t you know who Bruce Maxwell is?', and told me I was making everyone feel uncomfortable. Nobody was even paying attention to them,” Henry claimed.
“I didn’t know anything about him or the kneeling. All I know is a friend of mine 15 years ago lost his job for serving someone a drink who happened to be underage, so if anyone looks under 30, I’m going to card them.”
The waiter said that the councilman then complained to the restaurant’s manager about Maxwell being uncomfortable, and the manager simply swapped me to another table, and that it was “no big deal.”
The restaurant manager on duty that day, Anne Whalen — who requested the restaurant name not be used without permission from the owner — also told Fox News that Maxwell’s story being portrayed in the media could not be further from the truth.
“Matt came to me and told me that a guy wanted a beer but his ID was not valid and I told him he absolutely could not give it to him, we can go to jail for that in the state of Alabama," the manager said.
"It was his friend causing all the fuss, none of us even knew who this baseball player was. I told him I had no idea who he was going on about,” she said. “Eventually Matt just asked if we could put another server on the table so I did. … I can’t believe the story.”
Whalen said that of the three men, Maxwell was the only one who produced a valid ID and thus was the only one they served a beer to.
However, Maxwell told TMZ Sports this week — and headlines since have spanned the globe — that the waiter said to him, “You’re the guy who took the knee?” After confirming he was, Maxwell alleged that the waiter then responded, “I voted for Trump, and I stand for everything he stands for,” and then refused to serve him.
This allegedly prompted the councilman, who is a high school friend and is African-American, to approach the restaurant’s manager who then mitigated the situation by putting another waiter on their table.
“We didn’t even discuss Trump. I was working two jobs, I don’t have time for rallies,” Henry continued. “If this all happened a month ago, why suddenly now is he claiming all this now?”
The pro-baseball rookie also claimed to TMZ that he was racially profiled by the server, of which Henry vehemently denies.
“It’s really easy for people to point a finger at Alabama, and that’s what has upset me about this fabrication the most,” Henry noted. “This is one of the best places to live in America, if not the planet. Hearing this was a slap in the face.”
Henry also noted that Maxwell was very polite during the meal, never raising any eyebrows. Whalen said that the men happily paid their bill without objection and left after their meal.
Maxwell became the first and only MLB player to kneel during the national anthem at a game against the Texas Rangers on September 23. He is also the son of a U.S. Army veteran and previously stated that the point of his kneeling was not to disrespect the military, but to draw attention to the “racial divide that is being practiced from the highest power.”
“Unless you’re subjected to it, you won’t feel it,” Maxwell also told TMZ. “I’m very respectful, I’m very educated. And it still happens to this day. And so … that’s the reason I kneel.”
Henry told Fox News that he started at the local restaurant a couple of months ago, but left two weeks ago only because of health issues from working two jobs and now is working only one.
A spokesperson for the Oakland A’s told Fox News that the club has no comment, and that Maxwell stands by his story and is not doing further interviews at this time.
A representative for Keith did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Keith previously told the Washington Post that the whole incident was “an embarrassment.”