Major League Baseball (MLB) commissioner Robert Manfred decided to move the All-Star Game on his own after holding extensive discussions with voting rights groups associated with Lebron James, Stacey Abrams and Rev. Al Sharpton, sources familiar with the move tell Fox News.
Abrams told a senior league official that she wanted him to denounce the Georgia voting rights law, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter. People associated with Sharpton's civil rights organization, and James's voting right group, "More than a Vote" also pressured league officials, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter.
After these conversations, Manfred believed the All Star game would be turned into a political event and players would boycott the game, these people say. Baseball sources say that Abrams’ current stance, that she is disappointed about the Georgia boycott, is suspect because she was among the most prominent political operatives to pressure the league to denounce the new law. James has publicly supported the Georgia boycott.
People close to Manfred believe Abrams’ group and Sharpton also wanted the league to support other issues, including voter drives and H.R. 1, the For the People Act — sweeping election reform that recently passed the House.
"They wanted us to do more than just a pre-game ceremony...Baseball would have to be in the market for doing stuff involving voting rights," a senior MLB executive with direct knowledge of the matter tells Fox News.
Manfred decided the easiest way to deal with the matter was to leave Georgia, according to a source.
After Manfred made the decision, he told the eight-member executive committee before making the announcement, which surprised the 22 other teams. Manfred said the decision was made after discussions with the MLB Players Association and its Players Alliance.
The game will now be held in Colorado.
In a statement to Fox New, Abrams spokesman Seth Bringman downplayed her role in the entire matter. "In a single, 1-on-1 conversation with an MLB senior advisor, she urged the league to keep the All-Star game in Georgia and to speak out against the law when they do," Bringman said.
Abrams wrote on Twitter last week after the move was announced that she was "Disappointed @MLB will move the All-Star Game, but proud of their stance on voting rights. GA GOP traded economic opportunity for suppression. On behalf of PoC targeted by #SB202 to lose votes + now wages, I urge events & productions to come & speak out or stay & fight. #gapol"
She later released another statement. "Like many Georgians, I am disappointed that the MLB is moving its All-Star Game; however, I commend the players, owners and League Commissioner for speaking out," she wrote. "As I have stated, I respect boycotts, although I don’t want to see Georgia families hurt by lost events and jobs. Georgians targeted by voter suppression will be hurt as opportunities go to other states."
Representatives for James and Sharpton did not respond to requests for comment.