Baseball's All-Star Game Lures Immigration Activists

Protesters have backed off a planned boycott of Tuesday's Major League All-Star Game in Phoenix. Instead, they'll hand out white ribbons to rally opposition to Arizona's tough immigration law. Meanwhile, the game will be missing some of its top stars, including Alex Rodriguez, Placido Polanco and Albert Pujols. They're out with injuries.

Copyright © 2011 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, host:

Major League Baseball plays its 82nd All-Star Game tonight at Chase Field in Phoenix. It's the first time the game has been played in the home of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Critics of Arizona's tough immigration law, known as SB 1070, wanted the game moved elsewhere, but it will go on - that is, minus some big name players. NPR's Ted Robbins says that baseball fans and immigration activists both have something to complain about.

(Soundbite of baseball game)

TED ROBBINS: The New York Mets' Jose Reyes is leading the National League in hitting this season, and he connected pretty well during batting practice at Chase Field Monday.�He showed up despite a hamstring injury. But some of the game's biggest stars won't be here - like the St Louis Cardinals' Albert Pujols, the New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter.

A-Rod was scheduled for knee surgery this week, which seems like a pretty good excuse.�Jeter, though, played last weekend.�In fact, he became one of the few players in baseball history to reach 3,000 hits.�But he says he's still recovering from a calf injury.�

Cleveland Indians pitcher�Chris Perez thinks Jeter should have shown up.

Mr. CHRIS PEREZ (Pitcher, Cleveland Indians): This game's for the fans. It's not for us. And if you got voted in, you should be here. Even if you're not going to play, at least, you know, go around the field and wave your hand.

ROBBINS: This is Perez's first All-Star Game. He says he wanted to get Jeter's autograph or swap jerseys.�

All told, 16 all stars won't be here.�

If it were up to Anayanse Garza, no one would be.�Garza is an immigration activist who is outside the stadium asking people not to cross a picket line opposing Arizona's SB 1070.�

Ms. ANAYANSE GARZA (Activist): This picket line is here and you should not cross it, just like you people shouldn't have crossed it in the '60s when there was, you know, in Birmingham or in Mississippi when there was those picket lines against Jim Crow venues.

ROBBINS: Realistically, fans who paid $60 a ticket and up aren't likely to stay home.�So a different coalition of�immigrant rights groups is taking a friendlier approach.�Danny Ortega is chairman of the National Council of La Raza.�He and others are passing out white ribbons and asking fans to wear them inside.

Mr. DANNY ORTEGA (National Council of La Raza): We weren't going to walk away from it, number one. Number two, we weren't going to oppose them coming here without antagonizing them. And so we thought this was the best way to do it.

ROBBINS: Last year,�the Major League Players Association issued a statement�opposing SB 1070. Since then, it's backed off.�When I asked players, most answered like the Toronto Blue Jays' Jose Bautista.

Mr. JOSE BAUTISTA (Toronto Blue Jays): Well, it's just something that I'm not really educated on enough to feel comfortable about making a comment, so I'd rather just reserve my thoughts on that.

ROBBINS: The closest to actual opposition?�David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox, who came to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic.�

Mr. DAVID ORTIZ (Boston Red Sox): Well, I'm an immigrant. You know what I'm saying. And I definitely would never agree with treating an immigrant bad, you know, the wrong way.

ROBBINS: Ortiz says he hopes President Obama will tackle comprehensive immigration reform.�But Ortiz�is playing.�As for the game itself, the�only actual thing at stake? The winning league gets home field advantage in the World Series.�

Ted Robbins, NPR News, Phoenix.

(Soundbite of music)

KELLY: Let's follow up now on another baseball milestone. That's Yankee star Derek Jeter's 3,000th career hit, which he made last Saturday. And it was, of course, a home run. Christian Lopez is the 23-year-old fan who caught the ball and gave it to Jeter.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

He may regret that. The Yankees gave Lopez tickets for the remainder of the season, along with bats, balls and jerseys signed by Derek Jeter. Now the New York Times estimates those items are worth at least $50,000, which means Lopez could face a tax bill in the thousands.

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News.

Copyright © 2011 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Support comes from: