Texas governor refuses to throw Rangers' first pitch because of MLB's All-Star move

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks attends a news conference where he provided an update to Texas' response to COVID-19, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott wants nothing to do with Major League Baseball after it moved its All-Star game out of Atlanta last week. (Eric Gay / Associated Press)

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott decided not to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Texas Rangers' home opener Monday as scheduled.

He had really been looking forward to it too.

Then Major League Baseball had to go and ruin it by "perpetuating false political narratives," the Republican governor said in a letter to Rangers executive Neil Leibman.

Abbott was referring to MLB's decision last week to move the 2021 All-Star game out of Atlanta because of a new law in Georgia that voting rights advocates say will make it more difficult for people, particularly Black and other minority voters, to participate in elections.

"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," Abbott wrote in a tweet that included a copy of his letter to Leibman. "It is shameful that America's pastime is being influenced by partisan politics."

In a statement Friday to announce the relocation of this year's All-Star festivities, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred wrote that “Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box.”

Abbott did not provide evidence to support his claim that the narrative has "turned out to be" false.

The Rangers are the first MLB team to welcome fans back to its stadium at 100% capacity, a move made possible when Abbott lifted the state's mask mandate in early March. President Biden has called the Rangers' decision "a mistake."

In his letter, Abbott made it a point to remind Leibman — who must have realized by this point that the note was not meant for his eyes only — that the "State of Texas was proud to help MLB host last season's National League playoff games and the World Series in Arlington" while MLB completed the 2020 season amid a pandemic.

Abbott also added that he's not limiting his one-man protest to the season opener.

"I 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," Abbott wrote to Leibman.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.