A World Series billboard touting the contributions of immigrant ballplayers went up outside Citizens Bank Park on Wednesday in an effort to counter a wave of anti-immigrant campaign advertising.
It says, “The World Series is brought to you by immigrants.”
The message appears on an electronic billboard facing south on Interstate 95 near the stadium where the Phillies and Astros will meet in Game 5 on Thursday night.
“There wouldn’t be a World Cup without those players, without those immigrants,” said Erika Almiron, a Philadelphia senior organizer with the Latino rights group Mijente, which put up the billboard. “The world is watching our team. We wouldn’t have come this far without the contributions of people who aren’t from here.
Another reason for the billboard, she said, was to “inspire our people to come out and vote. To remind Latino citizens that their voice matters, that they can expand it by getting out and voting for people who represent our interests.
The billboard comes amid recent campaigns for office in Pennsylvania and across the country, which in many cases have featured heavy anti-immigrant ads. Almiron said the billboard is fighting that, saying they are happy for immigrants to perform at the highest level on the biggest stage.
Both the Phillies and Astros outfield stars were born outside the United States.
Phillies shortstop Jean Segura was born in the Dominican Republic, as was pitcher Seranthony Domínguez. Pitchers of the year José Alvarado and Ranger Suárez are from Venezuela.
According to Major League Baseball, the Astros have the most internationally-born players with 16 on the Opening Day roster.
At the bottom of the bulletin board is the line: “Our Sazón, our Philly, go vote!”
“We’ve seen a lot of ads this election cycle that have been anti-immigrant,” Almiron said. “This is about creating a different narrative about immigrants and Latinos. Every time a Latin American immigrant comes to bat, hits a hit and wins a game, we love it, right?
The towering red, white and black sign is at least the second billboard to appear during the World Series. Local attorney James Helm, founder of TopDog Law, was pulling for the Astros on the Schuylkill Expressway.
“I had a funny sign,” that billboard read, “but the Astros stole it.”
This is a reference to the Astros’ 2017 World Series cheating scandal, where the team used cameras and other technology to steal opposing teams’ signs.
According to MLB, 28 percent of major league players were born outside the continent. That’s 275 of the 975 players who were active on Opening Day, 28 on the rosters and the injured, restricted or disabled lists.
They represented 21 countries and territories.
The Dominican Republic is tied for the lead with 99 players, the same number since MLB began reporting the data in 1995. Venezuela is second with 67 players, while Cuba is third with 23. The number includes 16 players from Puerto Rico, which is a U.S. territory and not a separate country. Mexico had 13, Canada 12, Colombia 10, Japan seven and Panama six.
Latino players make up 28.5% of all MLB players, according to the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports. Neither Houston nor Philadelphia have a US-born black player, prompting Astros manager Dusty Baker to tell USA Today that he was “ashamed of the game.”
Teams include players of color from the Caribbean, Central and South America.