Donald Trump announced he would be attending the World Series game in Atlanta on Saturday night — his first public appearance in the state since he campaigned for Herschel Walker, the former football player who’s running for a Georgia Senate seat.
The announcement could seem a little out of left field — or at least a change up — given the former president in April demanded a boycott of baseball in the wake of the MLB announcing that it was pulling the 2021 All-Star game from the city in response to Georgia’s restrictive new voting law.
“Boycott baseball and all of the woke companies that are interfering with Free and Fair Elections,” the former president demanded, adding, “Baseball is already losing tremendous numbers of fans, and now they leave Atlanta with their All-Star Game because they are afraid of the Radical Left Democrats.”
The move perhaps also could be seen as a general brushback to critics in both parties who would prefer to see Trump take a more low-profile public role, instead of publicly challenging the 2020 election results.
President Joe Biden won Georgia by a narrow margin in the 2020 election, a result that Trump repeatedly tried to get reversed — famously telling Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in a recorded phone call, “I just want 11,780 votes” — or one more than he was losing the state by.
At the Walker rally in Perry, Ga. in September, he told the crowd: “We’re going to fire your ultra left-wing Senator Raphael Warnock, and elect the great Herschel Walker to the United States Senate. … They attacked and cheated on our elections, and they did it right here in Georgia.”
The Atlanta Braves are playing the Houston Astros in Game 4 of the World Series at Truist Park on Saturday, and it could be the latest chapter in a complicated relationship between the sport and the former president: Trump notably pulled out of throwing the opening pitch at a Yankees home game in the summer of 2020, an appearance he had heavily touted, “Because of my strong focus on the China Virus, including scheduled meetings on Vaccines, our economy and much else.”
In his brief, tweet-like statement on Saturday, Trump called both the Braves and the Astros “two great teams” and thanked Rob Manfred, the MLB commissioner, and Randy Levine, the president of the New York Yankees, for the invite.
“Looking forward to being at the World Series in Atlanta tonight,” Trump said in the statement, adding that Melania, his wife, would be joining him.
Trump previously watched the Astros play the Washington Nationals in the 2019 World Series, though the then-president was loudly booed at Nationals Park.
The former president has also been dabbling in other athletic fandom recently. He commentated on a celebrity boxing bout on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks this year, weighing in on the fight between Evander Holyfield and Vitor Belfort.
Atlanta is no stranger to the intersection between baseball and politics. Manfred is already under fire this week for defending the Braves’ name, which is based on a term for a Native American warrior, and the “Tomahawk chop” gesture. Other teams with names rooted in Native American imagery, like the Cleveland Guardians (formerly Indians), have made the change.
“The Braves have done a phenomenal job with the Native American community,” Manfred said. “The Native American community in that region is wholly supportive of the Braves’ program, including ‘the chop.’”
The National Congress of American Indians responded that “Nothing could be further from the truth.”
Trump recently chimed in to denounce the Cleveland Guardians’ decision to change their name from the Indians, saying it was “disrespectful.”