Dear British baseball community,
Canadians are weird. We spell “ise” words with a “z” but call the letter a “zed”. The Queen is on all of our money, but Americans are on most of our favourite television shows.
Being a Canadian baseball fan in the UK is weird, too. I’ve spent all my life in Canada as a diehard fan of a minority sport, but that whole time we had a team. For the first few years of my life, we had two.
Here’s what I know: whatever I felt there, you must feel infinitely more here. Every time I talk about you, I end up using some version of the phrase “small but mighty”. So mighty! You folks are the Marcus Stromans, David Ecksteins, Jose Altuves and the Dustin Pedroias of baseball. The size of this community most definitely doesn’t measure its heart.
You’ve helped me reali(s/z)e what a privileged baseball life I’ve been able to lead, and what sometimes simple pleasures I’ve taken for granted: I’ve watched games while doing chores on a Sunday afternoon. I’ve purchased tickets for less than £12.00. I could easily choose from a wide selection of merchandise without paying insane import charges. There was usually at least one other person at work who I could talk to about baseball.
And, of course, the bigger privileges: I’ve worked at a stadium. I was there to witness one of the most important games in my team’s history.
While you could have—justifiably—been incredibly protective of your uniquely British community, and especially some of the opportunities and perks that have come up as a result of the London Series, you’ve been the utter opposite: welcoming, warm and enthusiastic, without exception.
When the chance arose few weeks ago to attend the workout day, I was sad I couldn’t go. Very quickly, though, I thought, actually, I’m kind of glad. I’m glad this means one more ticket for people who have never experienced anything like this before, for the fans who have never seen an MLB player in the flesh, for the ones who stay up late, the ones who bring us together to nerd out at pubs, for the ones who have found themselves, unexpectedly, in a never-ending long-distance relationship in which their love can only visit, maximum, once a year.
In short, British baseball fans: thank you for welcoming me (and other North American interlopers) into your amazing community, for inviting me onto your softball teams and to your league AGMs. Thank you for organi(s/z)ing events and lending me books and letting me write for your websites and blogs. Thank you for helping me reali(s/z)e how lucky I’ve been—for all of my baseball experiences, but also for the privilege of getting to know so many of you, some of the most dedicated fans a sport could possibly ask for.
I will enjoy the hell out of this weekend, but I know you will absolutely enjoy it more.
You built it. They’re coming. You deserve this.
A wonderful piece of writing. I am also a Baseball loving North American, living in Southwest England. I will be taking my nearest and dearest(family) to the 2nd most popular game in Europe this weekend, the MLB game on Sunday. This experience will bring back memories of the days when I was a young boy having fun playing baseball, dreaming that one day I maybe playing MLB Baseball for a living.