Gov. Greg Abbott declines to throw Texas Rangers 1st pitch, citing MLB’s stance against Georgia voting law

ARLINGTON, Texas — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Monday that he will not throw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Texas Rangers home opener because of Major League Baseball’s stance on voter integrity laws.

Abbott, a Republican, informed the Rangers of his decision in a letter ahead of Monday’s game, according to a news release. He cited the MLB’s decision to move the organization’s All-Star game and draft in Atlanta in response to Georgia’s restrictive voting law.

“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,” Abbott wrote in the letter.

“It is shameful that America’s pastime is not only being influenced by partisan political politics, but also perpetuating false political narratives. This decision does not diminish the deep respect I have for the Texas Rangers baseball organization, which is outstanding from top to bottom.”

Abbott also said he will no longer participate in any event held by MLB, and that the State of Texas will not seek to host the All-Star game or any other MLB special events.

The Georgia law, recently signed by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, includes new voter identification requirements for absentee ballots, empowers state officials to take over local elections boards, limits the use of ballot drop boxes and makes it a crime to approach voters to give them food and water as they wait in line.

It has prompted lawsuits from civil rights groups, a sharp denunciation from President Joe Biden and calls for businesses to take action against the state.

Republican proponents of the law say the critics who accuse them of “voter suppression” are mischaracterizing both their intentions and key provisions of the law. They claim the law not only makes Georgia’s elections more secure but that it expands access to voting.

“Major League Baseball caved to fear, political opportunism, and liberal lies,” Kemp said in a statement after the MLB announced its decision.

“Georgians – and all Americans – should fully understand what the MLB’s knee-jerk decision means: cancel culture and woke political activists are coming for every aspect of your life, sports included. If the left doesn’t agree with you, facts and the truth do not matter.”

The Atlanta Braves said the franchise is “deeply disappointed” by the decision to move the game.

“This was neither our decision, nor our recommendation and we are saddened that fans will not be able to see this event in our city,” according to a statement from the team. “Unfortunately, businesses, employees, and fans in Georgia are the victims of this decision.”

In a statement to CNN, a Rangers spokesperson said Audrey Simmons, a fifth grade science teacher from Dunn Elementary in Arlington, Texas, will now throw the first pitch. Sydney Maxwell, a nurse at Medical City Healthcare, will catch the first pitch.

“Frontline heroes will be participating in today’s ceremonial first pitch prior to the game,” the spokesperson said.

Monday’s game between the Rangers the Toronto Blue Jays, held at Globe Life Field, is one of the first sporting events with full fan capacity.

Rangers spokesperson John Blake told CNN in March that the overall capacity of the stadium is 40,518.

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