Ex-MLB Commissioner Blasts Rob Manfred's Decision to Pull All-Star Game Out of Georgia

Former MLB Commissioner Fay Vincent blasted current Commissioner Rob Manfred for pulling the league's All-Star Game out of Atlanta in response to Georgia's new voting law.

In an op-ed published Tuesday in The Wall Street Journal, Vincent wrote, "Major League Baseball can't become a weapon in the culture wars, a hostage for one political party or ideology."

He continued, "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."

Last Friday, MLB announced that it would pull the game out of Georgia after Governor Brian Kemp signed a new law that requires stricter identification measures for absentee ballots, prohibits election officials from mailing out absentee ballots to eligible voters, and makes offering food and water to voters in line a criminal offense, among other restrictions.

Critics of the law have argued that it unfairly targets the state's communities of color, especially in metropolitan areas like Atlanta.

In a statement announcing the decision, Manfred said, "Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box." He added, "Fair access to voting continues to have our game's unwavering support."

Fay Vincent
Former MLB Commissioner Fay Vincent speaks to reporters before a 1990 game between the Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh. In a Monday op-ed, Vincent blasted the current commissioner's decision to pull the league's All-Star Game out of Atlanta. Getty

In his op-ed, Vincent wrote, "Major League Baseball decided last week to move the All-Star Game out of Atlanta after the Georgia Legislature passed changes to the state's voting laws that many, including President Biden, called racist. Activists urged Commissioner Robert Manfred to punish Georgia."

He continued, "By rushing to do so without first protesting the substance of the law, Mr. Manfred made a serious mistake."

Vincent, who served as the league's commissioner from 1989 to 1992, argued that the only people who will be hurt by the move are "Atlanta's stadium workers and local vendors." The All-Star Game is known to rake in large returns for host cities, generating an average of $84.4 million a year, according to MLB data.

Since moving the game to Denver, Manfred has faced criticism because Colorado is known for its restrictive voting laws.

"Mr. Manfred failed to spell out specific criticisms of Georgia's voting law. Now he's put himself in the awkward position of having to defend Colorado's voting laws," Vincent wrote.

While it's true that Colorado has fewer in-person voting days compared with Georgia, there is also less demand for those days because voting is done predominantly by mail. Voters in Colorado rarely encounter lines because each registered voter receives a ballot 15 to 20 days before the election, which the person can send back or leave at a secure drop box.

Colorado also requires voter ID only when voters register for the first time and whenever they vote in person, but not for mail-in ballots. The state also accepts 16 forms of identification, compared with Georgia's six.

"During my time as commissioner, I learned that the American people view baseball as a public trust," Vincent wrote. "They want the game to stand for the best and noblest of our national virtues. They see baseball as the repository of their dreams, even as they root for their favorite teams. They don't want, and won't accept, anything that separates them from the game's history and leadership."

Newsweek reached out to the MLB for comment but did not hear back before publication.