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Texas Governor Backs Out of Throwing First Pitch at Rangers' Opener, Citing MLB's All-Star Game Decision

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced he would not throw out the first pitch at Monday's Rangers home opener in response to Major League Baseball's decision to move the All-Star Game from Atlanta due to Georgia's controversial new voting legislation.

According to The Dallas Morning News, Abbott was expected to appear alongside frontline workers from the state's pandemic response on Monday at Globe Life Field, which will be open to its full capacity of 40,300. The governor, whose disapproval ratings jumped after he removed COVID-19 restrictions and the state endured a utility crisis due to winter storms in February that left more than 100 dead, said in the letter that he would no longer participate in any MLB event. 

"I was looking forward to it—until Major League Baseball adopted what 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 to Rangers president and chief operating officer Neil Liebman. 

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

On Friday, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred announced the decision to move the All-Star Game from Truist Park over Georgia's new voting law, which has been heavily criticized by civil rights leaders, voting rights advocates and President Joe Biden. The law rolls back vote-by-mail and absentee ballot eligibility while making it a crime to distribute food and water to people waiting in line to vote. 

National Black Justice Coalition executive director David J. Johns last week called on the PGA to move The Masters, telling Golfweek that the law will "return Black and poor and already disenfranchised voters in Georgia to second class citizens."

“I have decided that the best way to demonstrate our values as a sport is by relocating this year’s All-Star Game and MLB Draft," Manfred said in a statement. "Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box."