Texas Guv Greg Abbott refuses to throw pitch at Rangers opener after MLB boycotts Georgia over voting law
The GOP governor wrote an open letter to the Rangers, saying it was shameful that America's favorite sport was being influenced by 'partisan politics' and 'false political narratives'
The controversial voting reform in Georgia has hit the arena of sports hard after Major League Baseball (MLB) decided to shift the summer All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest the sweeping changes that critics have alleged to be too restrictive. Now, Greg Abbott, the Republican governor of Texas, another red state, has said that he would not take part in the first pitch ceremony during the Texas Rangers’ home opener at Global Life Field in reaction to MLB’s decision to boycott Georgia.
Abbott revealed his decision in an open letter he wrote to Neil Leibman, president of business operations and chief operating officer of the Rangers, which was published on Monday, April 5. The 63-year-old governor said in the letter: “I was looking forward to it—until Major League Baseball adopted what turned out to be a false narrative about the election law reforms in Georgia, and, based on that false narrative, moved the MLB All-Star Game from Atlanta. It is shameful that America’s pastime is not only being influenced by partisan political politics, but also perpetuating false political narratives.”
Abbott also said that while he will not participate in an event held by MLB, the state will also not seek to host either the All-Star Game or any other MLB special event. Last year, the GOP leader participated in on-field activities at Global Life Field ahead of the first game of the World Series.
MLB took the decision last Friday, April 2, with its commissioner Rob Manfred saying it was the “best way to demonstrate our values as a sport” after the voting bills were feared to adversely affect citizens of color. “Over the last week, we have engaged in thoughtful conversations with Clubs, former and current players, the Players Association, and The Players Alliance, among others, to listen to their views,” he said in a statement.
“I have decided that the best way to demonstrate our values as a sport is by relocating this year’s All-Star Game and MLB Draft. Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box,” he added.
The voting reform in the Peach State which the GOP lost both in the presidential and Senate elections recently has earned a wide backlash, even from the state's big corporate bodies despite the risk of boycotts that they have faced. The decision to shift the July 13 game from Atlanta’s Truist Park is the first economic backlash against the voting reform that Governor Brian Kemp signed into law last month.
Abbott though said in his letter that the decision to not participate doesn’t reduce the “deep respect” he has for the Rangers who lost to Toronto Blue Jays 2-6 in front of a packed stadium.