My first introduction to baseball was in 2000. My then boyfriend now husband had discovered a team called the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on a trip to Florida the year before, and as we were up all night studying Law at University, he would often put on the Channel 5 show to keep us awake and entertained.
We took our first trip to Florida together the following year and watched the Rays play the Orioles for Cal Ripken Jr.s last season at Tropicana Field. There was a giant card for all the fans to sign inside the stadium. I didn’t know much at that time about what was going on but it was good fun and a very American thing to do. Having come from a football-mad family, many of whom worked at Charlton Athletic back when they were a decent team, I really enjoyed the atmosphere and the extra entertainment like the cheerleaders and milk/coke bottle races. The crowd seemed less rowdy than English football and there was a lot of High-5-ing.
Whilst in Florida we got engaged, and knew the perfect place to honeymoon would be somewhere I had always dreamt of going – Boston. We had been following the NFL and I had designated the New England Patriots as my team, so it seemed to make sense to choose the Red Sox too.
Our wedding was planned and the honeymoon booked … for the 12th of October 2004. Little did we know what we were about to experience over in Bean Town.
When we had been to The Trop, we had just turned up and bought tickets. We had sort of toyed with the idea that we might try to see the Red Sox when we had first booked to go. How could we have known that the famous ‘Curse of the Bambino’ was about to be lifted … we obviously didn’t have a chance in hell of getting tickets for the ALCS, but we did do a tour of Fenway and watched the games from various sports bars in the city. We actually did see a tiny bit of the game too – we booked the Sky Walk up in the Prudential building which is a huge glass level where you can see many of the city’s historical sites including Fenway. We had a video camera and using the mega zoom in lens we were able to see one of the famous games against those pesky NY Yankees. Cool. And so a passion was born having seen them come back to win from a 3-0 hole.
We saw the Rays play again at The Trop in 2006, and in 2008 I finally got to see them play the Red Sox. It was a fantastic experience even if the Rays did win.
Since 2004 I have become obsessed with all things Boston. It’s my most favourite city in the whole world. We were lucky to go back in November in 2007 just after they had won the World Series again and bask in the joy. I have seen the Pats play at the London series. I collect Boston memorabilia. My favourite author is Dennis Lehane and my favourite film is Gone Baby, Gone, which we actually watched in Boston. And of course I love A Perfect Catch.
We took our daughter to her first baseball game in 2018, of course at The Trop and with amazing good luck, again playing the Red Sox. This was a lovely introduction for an English 8 year old girl with zero interest in any sport, let alone baseball. It was family fun day and she had a blast – there were loads of extra activities and she got to stroke a ray. She was given a pair of DJ Kitty slippers and joined the Kids Club for $10 which got her a whole bag of goodies.
We were always going to try for tickets for the London series and were THRILLED to find out the Red Sox were playing. We love the NFL London games and go almost every year (I even watched the Pats game whilst heavily pregnant!) so the excitement for a baseball game here is reaching fever point, even if we do have to watch the Yankees. This will be a fantastic chance to meet new people too – we have several friends who we go to the NFL games with and watch the Super Bowl, but no one is bothered with MLB TV, Caps Off or even the World Series.
Hopefully it’ll help a new generation of baseball fans be born, and be the start of many other MLB teams coming over to the UK. Fingers crossed it becomes a Red Sox home game like the Jags at Wembley and the Rays come over … #RedSox #RaysUp.