New audiences are always a brilliant opportunity to expand the horizons of any sport, but will the New York Yankees and the Red Sox inspire the Brits to warm up to the game.
London Series 19
London Stadium will be centre stage to the epic game between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees during the debut of the London Series when MLB is finally making its way to Europe. This event will be marked by loads of activities around the stadium and many truly US delicacies being sold at food stalls to help Brits warm up to this foreign experience of watching baseball in their home city.
The History of Baseball in London
To say baseball is completely alien to Londoners would not be entirely true. Sir Francis Ley, a very wealthy industrialist already travelled to America in the 19th century and their baseball sparked a love in him. Ley was an avid cricket fan and the only problem which he had with cricket is the length of a game which can stretch over days. No working-class person can take that much time off work to attend, so this was usually a sport for the wealthy with loads of idle time on their hands. Baseball, on the other hand, he found to be much more intense and an entire game can be played within a few hours, allowing the entire nation to be able to be there. On his return to Derby County in 1889, he went ahead and built a baseball field for his employees, needless to say, the first of its kind in entire Britain. Although baseball never really took off in Britain his team was quite liked by the local folk. Ley didn’t stop there. He hired an American coach for his team and this formed the foundation when Britain had their first professional baseball season during 1890. The event was mainly sponsored by A.G. Spalding, the baseball magnate of America. Britain delivered some baseball fans, but not enough to keep it all running. It was however enough to be the beginning of some amateur teams forming all over the country and then they just simply disappeared.
With the trend of globalization in sport, it makes a whole lot of sense to host more baseball games outside of the traditional countries of Canada and the United States. This is also not the first time that baseball games would be hosted outside of these countries. The aim is to get the European crowds more interested in the sport and expand the market share that it has. In the past, there has been a couple of games played all over the UK, but this one is going hand-in-hand with a serious built up to make sure the Brits will be there and based on the sell-out crowds expected, it seems that it is working. Yet MLB is fully aware that they won’t be able to change the local crowd overnight into serious baseball fans.