I’m just over two weeks away from the trip of a lifetime. On 7 March, I fly to Phoenix, where I will be watching Great Britain play in the World Baseball Classic – and honestly, I can’t wait!
I’m not a man of significant means and, like several others I know that are making the trip, I have had to make sacrifices to finance this trip – and these will continue for a good few months after I’m back as well… But there will NEVER be the first time that Great Britain qualifies for the World Baseball Classic ever again, and I knew I couldn’t miss it.
Baseball has been a huge part of my life since I was 14 when a chance encounter led to me trying out for a local junior baseball team that I had only found existed that day. Since then, this kid has been hooked on the greatest game on Earth.
Fast-forward 27 years, and I’m grateful to have had a lifetime of enjoyment from the sport. I’ve played with, coached, and volunteered alongside some incredible people and formed friendships that have stood the test of time. I had no idea of the opportunity that was being presented to me on that windy evening in Bolton all these years ago, but I’m so glad I grasped it. So, when the game presented me with another opportunity – to go and watch GB’s first-ever appearances in the WBC – I knew I had to find a way.
The first step was to find a travel buddy. Going on my own would have been a significantly more expensive, more daunting and more difficult option. Thankfully, one of my good friends, John, is as obsessed with baseball as I am – he might argue even more so – and is no stranger to international baseball trips. He took little/no convincing to join me, but we both needed a little time to figure out the logistics.
Despite the clarity surrounding why we were going, we both suffered moments of doubt. “Was this the sensible thing to do?” was the thought that reverberated around my head more frequently than I care to admit. There was only one thing for it; we had to book our flights, and at this point, there was no going back… And I haven’t regretted that or had any nagging feelings of doubt since.
From there, the excitement started ramping up. I think we had ordered our first patriotic outfits to grace the bleachers with before we had arranged our car or accommodation. We’ve had contact from the British Baseball Federation (BBF) about a few events they are hoping to put on, and we’ve got a few plans of our own to catch the eye and raise awareness of the game in the UK while we are out there too.
If you want to follow our journey while we’re out there, then feel free to give me a follow @Bleasedog on Twitter and @Bleastagram on Instagram. It’s going to be a hell of a ride. #LetsGoGB
Ian Blease is a guest contributor for Bat Flips & Nerds. Ian is the general manager of Liverpool Trojans and co-host of the “Dodging Sleep” podcast.