(Reuters) – Texas Governor Greg Abbott said he would not throw out the ceremonial opening pitch at the Texas Rangers’ home opener Monday, after Major League Baseball (MLB) removed July’s All-Star Game from Atlanta in a protest over Georgia’s new voting restrictions.
MLB’s announcement on Friday marked one of the most high-profile reactions after Georgia last month strengthened identification requirements for absentee ballots, shortened early voting periods for runoffs and made it a crime to offer food and water to voters waiting in line.
The voting law, which Georgia’s Republican Governor Brian Kemp endorsed, faces legal challenges from civil rights groups and others who say it aims to suppress voting among Black people and other racial minorities, who tend to vote Democratic.
Abbott, who is also a Republican, said in an open letter to the Texas Rangers that he would “not participate in an event held by MLB” and that the state would not “seek to host the All-Star Game or any other MLB special events.”
“I was looking forward to (throwing the pitch) – until Major League Baseball adopted what has turned out to be a false narrative about the election law reforms in Georgia,” Abbott said in his letter.
“It’s shameful that America’s pastime is not only being influenced by partisan political politics, but also perpetuating false political narratives.”
MLB and the Rangers did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Rangers are expected to welcome back fans for their home opener Monday against the Toronto Blue Jays, the only team in the league to operate at 100% capacity after playing the entirety of last year’s regular season to empty stands amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
(Reporting by Amy Tennery; Editing by Hugh Lawson)