To Protest Arizona’s SB 1070 or Play in Tonight’s All-Star Game?

Players have taken different sides of the debate over Arizona's SB 1070, but will any refuse to take the field on one of baseball's biggest nights?

By Julianne Hing Jul 12, 2011

The All-Star game, professional baseball’s official mid-season celebration, is on for tonight. But the long-planned boycott of the game, which is happening in Phoenix, Arizona, isn’t happening the way it was initially imagined when Arizona’s sweeping anti-immigrant law SB 1070 burst onto the national scene last year.

SB 1070 was the first of a series of state immigration laws that have since become law which mandated, among other things, that law enforcement officers who had "reasonable suspicion" that a person was undocumented detain and investigate the person’s status. The law also allowed law enforcement officers to hold a person in custody while they determined a person’s status.

"It’s immoral," Red Sox first baseman Adrian Gonzalez told the San Diego Union-Tribune last year. "They’re violating human rights. In a way, it goes against what this country was built on. This is discrimination. Are they going to pass out a picture saying "You should look like this and you’re fine, but if you don’t, do people have the right to question you?’ That’s profiling."

Gonzalez was not the only player who condemned the law–many of his colleagues also criticized Arizona’s anti-immigrant stance. There was talk that some players might sit the game out last year, and community groups urged Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig to move the game out of Phoenix as part of a boycott that was called for the entire state. Selig steadfastly refused, and of the many expected player absences at tonight’s game, none are because of political opposition to SB 1070.

"On April 30, 2010, the MLBPA expressed publicly its opposition to SB 1070, and that position remains unchanged," said Michael Weiner, director of the Major League Baseball Players Association in a statement last week. "We stated then that, if SB 1070 as written went into effect, we would consider additional measures to protect the interests of our members. SB 1070 is not in effect and key portions of the law have been judged unlawful by the federal courts. Under all the circumstances, we have not asked players to refrain from participating in any All-Star activities."

On SB 1070, Weiner’s technically wrong; portions of the restrictionist immigration law actually stand as law today.

Boycott or no, there are a series of planned actions happening tonight at Chase Field. Sharon Robinson, Jackie Robinson’s daughter, will be at the game tonight and has pledged to wear one of the white ribbons that the pro-immigrant advocacy group Somos America will distribute in silent protest of SB 1070 because she is, as she told the New York Times, "totally opposed to the legislation." Other groups, like Puente, have vowed to demonstrate at tonight’s game.