Published July 01, 2010
At baseball games across the country, America's national pastime is competing with another longtime American tradition: protesting.
Opponents of Arizona's new law cracking down on illegal immigrants are trying to put pressure on baseball commissioner Bud Selig to move next year's All-Star Game from Phoenix, and they're doing it by protesting the state's Major League team, the Diamondbacks.
The protesters are following the Diamondbacks from ballpark to ballpark, from Dodger Stadium to Fenway Park, accusing the team's management of supporting the Arizona Republican Party, which is responsible for the bill.
"The Diamondbacks represent Arizona, and Arizona is our key target," Favianna Rodriguez, a lead organizer with the activist group Presente.org, told FoxNews.com. "When we deliver an economic blow to Arizona, it really sends a message that Americans will not tolerate laws like this."
Arizona's law, which empowers police to determine immigration status when investigating other potential crimes and violations, takes effect July 29, prompting a wave of lawsuits and boycotts from opponents who say the law promotes racial profiling and is unconstitutional.
The D-backs have denied supporting the law, saying that while the team's managing general partner Ken Kendrick has donated to Republican political candidates in the past, Kendrick personally opposes the law.
"The team also explained that Kendrick is one of nearly 75 owners of the D-backs and none of his, nor do the other owners', personal contributions reflect organizational preferences," team spokesman Shaun Rachua said in a written statement provided to FoxNews.com, adding that the team has never supported the law and have never taken political stances.
"The D-backs represent all of our employees, players, owners and fans who all have different political affiliations," he said. "It would be unfair and unjust for the D-backs to take a position because it can't be reflective upon everybody's views."
Since April, there have been six ballpark protestsm in Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco, New York and Boston, typically drawing about 100 protesters, waving signs and yelling outside the main gates. At one game in Dodger Stadium, about a dozen protesters reportedly unfurled a banner that read, "Don't Play With Hate," prompting security guards to escort them out.
Rodriguez said the group has collected 100,000 petitions asking for the 2011 All-Star game to be moved and added that they will protest this year's All-Star Game, which takes place this month in Anaheim, Calif.
"We're going to continue the pressure until Bud Selig moves the game," she said.
This week, protesters at Busch Stadium were met by dozens of St. Louis Tea Party members who were demonstrating support for Arizona's law. St. Louis Cardinals Manager Tony La Russa said he supports the law and welcomed the Tea Partiers inside the stadium.
"I'm actually a supporter of what Arizona's doing. … The national government doesn’t fix your problem, and you've got a problem, they've got to take care of it themselves," La Russa said.
Rodriguez said Tea Party members have not appeared anywhere else except Arizona.
But Selig is feeling internal pressure to bow to the protester's demands.
Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen has said he wouldn't participate in next year's All-Star Game if it remains in Arizona. The Major League Baseball Players Association condemned the law. And Rep. Jose Serrano, a New York Democrat whose district includes Yankee Stadium, has sent a letter asking Selig to move the game.
But leaders of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and 10 other groups have asked Selig not to take a position against the state by moving the game.
In a letter to Selig released in May, the group said a relocation would cost jobs for "innocent citizens, including our Hispanic community," and it says baseball shouldn't become "a pawn in a political debate."
So far, Selig has ignored the protesters. In May, he responded to questions about the pleas by defending baseball's minority hiring record.
"Apparently all the people around and in minority communities think we're doing OK," Selig said at a news conference. "That's the issue, and that's the answer. I told the clubs today: 'Be proud of what we've done.' They are. We should. And that's our answer. We control our own fate, and we've done very well."
Major League Baseball spokesman Pat Courtney told FoxNews.com that the league has no further comment.
But Rodriguez said that's not good enough, saying in a statement that "the commissioner is clearly out of touch with the 'minority communities' he says MLB is so in tune with."
She told FoxNews.com: "We need Bud Selig to speak out. He can't be silent on this issue.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.