The former head of Major League Baseball said the current commissioner made a “serious mistake” by pulling the All-Star Game out of Atlanta, warning that baseball “can’t become a weapon in the culture wars.”
Fay Vincent, who headed MLB from 1989-92, said that commissioner Rob Manfred jumped to conclusions about the Georgia Election Integrity Act “based on assumptions rather than carefully considered facts.”
“Activists urged Commissioner Robert Manfred to punish Georgia,” Mr. Vincent said in an op-ed published Tuesday by the Wall Street Journal. “By rushing to do so without first protesting the substance of the law, Mr. Manfred made a serious mistake.”
The headline said that Mr. Manfred “politicized baseball over a law he likely hadn’t examined.”
MLB moved the Midsummer Classic from Atlanta to Denver spurred by the Democratic outcry over Senate Bill 202, which requires voter registration for absentee ballots and bans electioneering, including passing out food and drinks, within 150 feet of a polling entrance, but also expands early voting.
The move came with Democrats decrying the Georgia Election Integrity Act as racist. President Biden has repeatedly compared the measure to the Jim Crow laws of the segregation era.
Atlanta, where nearly 30% of businesses are minority-owned, is expected to lose $100 million with the relocation of the July 13 game to Denver, which is 76% White and 9% Black. Atlanta is 51% Black.
“The midsummer All-Star Game is an exhibition that benefits only the city where it’s played,” Mr. Vincent said. “The players will get paid no matter where the game takes place. MLB will get the same television revenue. The only people hurt by Mr. Manfred’s decision will be Atlanta’s stadium workers and local vendors.”
While Democrats led by former gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams have leveraged the measure to call for the passage of H.R. 1, the sweeping national elections bill.
In a Friday statement, Mr. Manfred said that “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.”
“Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box,” he said.
Colorado is one of four all-mail ballot states, but would-be voters are required to produce valid identification, as are voters in Georgia. The Peach State also offers more early voting days than Colorado.
“Major League Baseball can’t become a weapon in the culture wars, a hostage for one political party or ideology,” Mr. Vincent said. “It can’t be only for the rich or the poor, nor can it only be for one race, as it was until 1947. Baseball must always stand above politics and its dark elements of corruption, greed and sordid selfishness. It can’t go wrong by standing for national greatness.”