April 5 (UPI) -- Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Monday he won't throw out the first pitch at the Texas Rangers' home opener in protest of Major League Baseball's stance against Georgia's new election laws.
Citing what he called "false political narratives" used by MLB in its decision to move its All-Star Game from Atlanta in response to the controversial Georgia laws, the Republican governor said in a letter to the Rangers he will "no longer participate in any event held by MLB."
The team is scheduled to host the Toronto Blue Jays Monday at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, to open its 2021 home season.
"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," Abbot wrote.
"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 letter said.
He also said he would not participate in any effort to move the All-Star Game to Texas.
MLB Commissioner Robert Manfred Jr. announced Friday that the game and baseball's amateur draft will be moved out of Georgia in response to the state's strict, new voting rules.
"Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box," Manfred said.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed sweeping new changes to the state's election rules on March 25. They impose voter ID requirements, limit ballot drop boxes, allow the state to take over local elections and prohibit non-election workers from offering food or drink to people waiting in line to vote.
The laws' Republican backers claim they are necessary protect "election integrity," but multiple civil and voting rights groups have sued the state asserting the measures are designed to make it harder for Georgians of color to vote.
A Rangers spokesperson told CNN that a fifth-grade science teacher from Arlington will instead throw the first pitch to a nurse who is working with COVID-19 patients.
"Frontline heroes will be participating in today's ceremonial first pitch prior to the game," the club said.
The game will be one of the first sporting events since the start of the pandemic to be played before a full fan capacity. The official capacity of Globe Life Field is 40,518.