Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Monday afternoon that he will not be throwing out the first pitch at the Texas Rangers‘ home opener, as had been scheduled, because of Major League Baseball’s response to voting laws recently passed in Georgia.
“I was looking forward to throwing out the first pitch at the Texas Rangers’ home opening game until @MLB adopted what has turned out to be a false narrative about Georgia’s election law reforms. It is shameful that America’s pastime is being influenced by partisan politics,” the Republican governor tweeted.
In an additional statement, Abbott said that he will not “participate in an event held by MLB, and the State will not seek to host the All-Star Game or any other MLB special events.”
On Friday, MLB announced that this summer’s All-Star Game was being moved out of Atlanta in response to a new Georgia law that has civil rights groups concerned about its potential to restrict voting access for people of color.
Commissioner Rob Manfred made the decision to move the All-Star Game and events, along with the amateur draft, from Atlanta after discussions with individual big leaguers and the Players Alliance, an organization of Black players formed after the death of George Floyd last year.
Last month, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed into law a sweeping, Republican-sponsored bill that includes new restrictions on voting by mail and greater legislative control over how elections are run. The bill, which also prohibits volunteers from distributing food and water to voters waiting in line, was finalized on March 25 roughly 15 miles from the Braves’ stadium, Truist Park.
The new voting law came in the wake of the first Democratic victories in presidential and Senate elections in Georgia in a generation, which triggered repeated unproven assertions by former President Donald Trump that the state’s election was fraudulent. Supporters of the new law have said it merely ensures election integrity and stamps out potential fraud, while critics have described it as a voter suppression tactic that would make it more difficult for minorities, particularly people of color, to vote, citing how it reduces ballot access in urban communities that lean Democrat.
In his statement Monday, Abbott chastised MLB for “perpetuating false political narratives.”
After going 1-2 in a season-opening road series against the Kansas City Royals, the Rangers will return to a full-capacity crowd at Globe Life Field for their home opener against the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday afternoon.
Information from ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez was used in this report.