A World Series billboard that extols the contributions of immigrant ballplayers appeared near Citizens Bank Park on Wednesday, seeking to counter a tide of anti-immigrant campaign advertising.
“The World Series,” it reads, “brought to you by immigrants.”
The message appears on an electronic billboard that faces south on I-95, near the stadium where the Phillies and Astros will meet in Game 5 Thursday night.
“There would be no World Series without those players, without those immigrants,” said Erika Almiron, a Philadelphia-based senior organizer for Mijente, the Latino rights group that put up the billboard. “The world is watching our team. We wouldn’t have made it 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 Latinos that their voice matters, that they can extend that by going out and voting for people who represent our interests.”
The billboard appeared in the final days of campaigning for offices in Pennsylvania and around the country that, in many cases, have featured extensive anti-immigrant advertisements. The billboard combats that, Almiron said, by telling people they are cheering for immigrants who are performing at the highest level on the biggest stage.
Both the Phillies and the Astros field stars who were born outside the United States.
Phillies shortstop Jean Segura was born in the Dominican Republic, as was pitcher Seranthony Domínguez. Pitchers José Alvarado and Ranger Suárez hail from Venezuela.
With 16 players on the opening-day roster, the Astros have the most internationally born players, according to Major League Baseball.
A line at the bottom of the billboard says, “Our Sazón, our Philly, Go vote!”
“We’ve been noticing a lot of ads during this election cycle that have been anti-immigrant,” Almiron said. “This is about producing a different narrative about immigrants and about Latinos. Every time a Latino immigrant comes up to bat, and gets a hit and wins the game, we love that, right?”
The towering red, white, and black sign is at least the second message-by-billboard to appear during the World Series. Local attorney James Helm, founder of TopDog Law, trolled the Astros on the Schuylkill Expressway.
“Had a funny sign,” that billboard reads, “but the Astros stole it.”
That’s a reference to the Astros’ 2017 World Series cheating scandal, in which the team used cameras and other technology to steal opposing teams’ signs.
Twenty-eight percent of major-league players were born outside the continental U.S., according to MLB. That’s 275 of 975 players who appeared on active, 28-player rosters and on injured, restricted, or bereaved lists as of opening day.
They represented 21 countries and territories.
The Dominican Republic leads, with 99 players, as it has since MLB began releasing data in 1995. Venezuela ranks second with 67 players, and Cuba third with 23. The count includes 16 players from Puerto Rico, which is a U.S. territory, not a separate country. Mexico had 13, Canada 12, Colombia 10, Japan seven, and Panama six.
Latinos make up 28.5% of all MLB players, according to the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida. Neither Houston nor Philadelphia has a U.S.-born Black player on their rosters, which spurred Astros manager Dusty Baker to tell USA Today that he was “ashamed of the game.’’