Texas Governor Declines First-Pitch Invite Over MLB Moving All-Star Game From Georgia

April 5, 2021 Updated: April 5, 2021

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott says he declined to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Texas Rangers’ home opening game because of Major League Baseball’s decision to move the All-Star Game from Atlanta in response to Georgia’s sweeping new voting laws.

Abbott thanked Neil Leibman, MLB’s chief operating officer, for the invitation.

“I was looking forward—until Major League Baseball adopted what has 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,” he wrote in a letter.

“It is shameful that America’s pastime is not only being influenced by partisan political politics, but also perpetuating false political narratives.”

Texas won’t seek to host any MLB special events and Abbott is forgoing all future participation in league events, although he maintains respect for the Texas Rangers, whose home opener was on April 5 against the Toronto Blue Jays.

MLB didn’t immediately respond to a request by The Epoch Times for comment.

The league on April 2 announced it was moving its All-Star Game and amateur player draft from Georgia in retaliation for lawmakers passing a law that proponents say strengthens election safeguards but has been criticized for allegedly making it harder to vote.

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Ian Kennedy of the Texas Rangers throws in the ninth inning against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., on April 4, 2021. (Ed Zurga/Getty Images)

MLB Commissioner Robert Manfred Jr. said the move was “the best way to demonstrate our values as a sport,” adding that the league “fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box.”

He didn’t specify which provisions in the law he opposed.

The move was cheered by some, including people around the league.

“Baseball is our national pastime and preserving the right to vote is a pillar of our American democracy,” Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott and Baltimore Orioles CEO John Angelos said in a joint statement. “The City of Baltimore and the Birds of Baltimore applaud MLB’s patriotism in supporting voting rights, and encouraging everyone to use this moment to fight for fair elections and register eligible Americans to vote and make their voices heard.”

But the decision drew backlash from others, including against corporations such as Delta and Coca-Cola that have criticized the law.

A group of Georgia lawmakers asked Coca-Cola to immediately remove their products from their offices, while former President Donald Trump called for boycotts against corporations that went public with their opposition to SB 202.

“Don’t go back to their products until they relent,” Trump said. “We can play the game better than them.”

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