The rumors started flying at spring training. Half of the 30 Major League Baseball teams hold their spring training ritual in Arizona and this year part of that ritual included seminars and informational workshops for Latino players about Arizona’s controversial immigration law. SB1070, although stalled in federal court, would grant local police the authority to detain persons suspected of being undocumented immigrants. The seminars also informed the players about what to do and how to act if they were to be detained and questioned by the police. Twenty eight percent of all MLB players are Latin American.
It’s been, as the cliche goes, a whole new ballgame.
The story comes to us from The Daily Sundial, a student publication in Arizona. According to the report several teams took extra measures to insure the safety of their foreign players:
- The Milwaukee Brewers have issued their players identification cards with their photo and information on how to contact Brewer officials if authorities question why the player is in Arizona.
- The Cleveland Indians held a seminar to inform their Latino players about the law and
- brought in an Arizona police officer to explain how SB 1070 works.
- The Indians also provided identification cards so the players wouldn’t have to carry their visas and other paperwork around.
Some of the more notable players have gone as far as to say that they would boycott this season’s All-Star Game, scheduled to take place in Arizona.
“If the game is in Arizona, I will totally boycott,” said Milwaukee pitcher Yovani Gallardo, a native of Mexico, to the Associated Press.
“I’m opposed to it. How are you going to tell me that, me, being Hispanic, if you stop me and I don’t have my ID, you’re going to arrest me? That can’t be,” said Dominican-born first baseman Albert Pujols, a three-time National League MVP. Pujols became an American citizen in 2007.
A little history, for perspective.
Since the early 1990’s there has been a 218 percent increase in Latino players in MLB. Sixty two percent of Latinos are fans of professional baseball. So if the League has been successful it has been due in large part to Latinos and the Latino community.
The question is: Does this merit a league boycott of the state? Should the All-Star game be moved out of Arizona?
It wouldn’t be unheard of. Superbowl XXVII was moved from Arizona when the state refused to celebrate Martin Luther King Day. The NFL understood that it would be a huge public relations problem because it has a very large number of African-American players.
It seems to me that this is no different.
Follow Victor Landa on Twitter: @vlanda[Photo by billaday]