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Gov. Abbott Refuses Invite To Throw Out First Pitch At Rangers' Home Opener

Gov. Greg Abbott
Christopher Connelly

Texas Republican governor cited Major League Baseball's decision to move the All-Star Game out of Atlanta over the passage of Georgia's Election Integrity Act, saying MLB has adopted "a false narrative about the election law reforms in Georgia."

Gov. Greg Abbott sent a letter to the Texas Rangers baseball organization on Monday declining the invitation to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at the their home opening game Monday afternoon against the Toronto Blue Jays at Globe Life Field. The game is the first U.S. sporting event to allow a full-capacity crowd since the coronavirus pandemic started.

The governor cited Major League Baseball's decision to move the MLB All-Star Game from Atlanta in response to Georgia's new election integrity laws. Gov. Abbott also noted that 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.

"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," reads his 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."

The Georgia measure, among other things, puts new limitations on mail-in voting and criminalizes passing out food and drinks to people waiting in line to cast a ballot. Critics of the law say it's too restrictive and will hurt communities of color. The CEOs of Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines and Coca-Cola have also condemned the voting law.

Republican lawmakers in Texas are also pushing bills to tighten voting laws. Those proposals have faced criticism from corporate giants based in Texas such as American Airlines and Dell Technologies.

A bill passed by the Texas Senate last week would limit early voting hours, prohibit drive-thru voting and prohibit election officials from proactively sending vote-by-mail applications to voters.

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Updated: April 5, 2021 at 12:45 PM CDT
This story's been updated to clarify the Ranger's home opening game is Monday afternoon against the Toronto Blue Jays at Globe Life Field.
Becky Fogel is the newscast host and producer for “Texas Standard.” She came to the show from Science Friday in New York where she produced segments on zombie microbiomes and sneaker technology. She got her start in radio at KWBU-FM in Waco and she’s happy to be back in the great state of Texas.
Rebekah Morr is KERA's All Things Considered newscaster and producer. She came to KERA from NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C., where she worked as a news assistant at Weekend All Things Considered.