It is 220 days until London hosts its third MLB game.
On Wednesday 16th November, Chase Utley, MLB’s ambassador in Europe, was at London Stadium, Stratford, to place a ceremonial home plate for the forthcoming MLB games and to mark where the first MLB home run in Europe landed in June 2019.
That home run by Aaron Hicks was part of a game that lasted just three minutes shy of the MLB record for a nine-inning game of four hours and 45 minutes. The seat in block 131 of London Stadiums’ East Stand was marked by Chase Utley and MLB today.
Fingers crossed, this level of gameday excitement will return next year when MLB brings over the Chicago Cubs and the St Louis Cardinals. Utley, who has played in two of MLB’s biggest rivalries (Dodgers v Giants and Phillies v Mets), was genuinely excited to see the historic Cubs v Cardinals Route 66 rivalry come over the pond to the UK.
The legendary second baseman has already met some of London locals when he took part in MLB and GB Baseball’s World Series Watch Party at Passyunk Avenue in Waterloo. Here he learnt some of the uphill tasks that face him in getting baseball to break into the over-saturated European sports market.
Baseball and MLB are not years behind the NBA and the NFL in bringing games to London but lack the key extra spark that helped push the other two. The cultural impact of NBA goes beyond the sport and NFL had a historic heyday in the UK in the 1980s. The impact of MLB on 5 doesn’t quite match these.
Chase doesn’t underestimate his task and has already stated that he knows the youth of today only have limited opportunities to play baseball in UK. He spoke about his kids who are amped to play more baseball here in the UK, and are already trying to convert their schoolmates to the game.
You’ll hear and see more of this chat with Chase Utley but I’ve buried the lede long enough.
Drum roll… we have ticket sales dates for the 2023 games.
- Pre-registered sales: 10:00 am, Wednesday 30th November
- General sales: 10:00 am, Tuesday 6th December
Time is running out to register with MLB to get pre-sales access. Click on the link below. Don’t miss out.
Here’s hoping that this is another stepping stone on a grand journey for baseball in Europe and I hope that kid and his family who got that first home run ball, frequently talk about it and have gotten into the game since 2019.
Finally, to ensure that you never miss a piece of #LondonSeries breaking news, follow these Twitter accounts.
Photos courtesy of CSM/Getty
Article by Russell Eassom. Russell is Bat Flips and Nerds’ resident analytical genius, and arguably Europe’s finest sabermetrician. If you’re not following Russell on Twitter @REassom then you’re doing baseball wrong
St. Louis Cardinals will play Chicago Cubs in the MLB World Tour: London Series 2023 on June 24 – 25 at London Stadium. For ticket and event updates, register at mlb.com/londonseries
Pre-registered players will get exclusive access to purchase tickets to the historic games from 10:00 GMT (05:00 EST) on Wednesday 30th November, with tickets going on general sale from 10:00 GMT (05:00 EST) on Tuesday 6th December.