Baseball crosses the pond, as the Yankees beat the Red Sox in a packed stadium in London
The Yankees won a wild debut across the pond.
As the Boston Red Sox faced off against the New York Yankees for the first of two weekend games, tens of thousands of curious Brits and American expats packed into the London Stadium. The Yankees ultimately prevailed in a wild game, 17-13. The contest ended up being just three minutes shy of the longest nine-inning game in MLB history.
While baseball is largely non-existent in the U.K., it bears a lot of similarities to the British game "rounders," although there is not a comparable league in the sport compared to soccer -- which Brits call football -- rugby and cricket. But such was the anticipation for the American pastime that tickets for the game sold out in an hour. Around 66,000 spectators will be in the stands for each game on Saturday and Sunday.
The London Series' opening game was even graced by royalty: the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, otherwise known as Prince Harry and Meghan, were in attendance and met with the players of both teams.
The spectacle of a baseball game in the U.K. was about more than a change of scenery.
Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred hopes that the London Series marks the beginning of the sport tapping into what could be a potentially lucrative overseas market.
“My own view is that I would like to have sustained play in Europe,” Manfred said in a press conference last week. “I’m thrilled to be in London. I’m glad to be coming back next year. But I’m also interested in playing in other cities in Europe. That will have to be worked out with the MLB PA.”
The NFL has held games in the U.K. for a decade, and in 2018 basketball had its debut across the pond too.
A difficulty that baseball faces in Europe is the scarcity of stadiums big enough to host the sport. But the London Stadium, now home to soccer team West Ham, was constructed for the Olympic Games in 2012, and was one of the only suitable locations to hold the series.
Former participants in the Invictus Games -- a league founded by Prince Harry for wounded and sick army personnel to take part in sporting events, took part in the ceremonial first pitch.
Harry, sporting an Invictus Games polo shirt, was hand-in-hand with his American-born wife Meghan, who beamed as the pair posed with both teams in the locker rooms at the stadium. Meghan is still on maternity leave, and it was her third public appearance since introducing her newborn baby Archie Harrison to the world in early May.
Both teams presented the royal parents with presents for Archie. The Yankees gifted him a Yankees uniform in the signature black and white, with Archie's name on the back and the number 19, for the year of his birth, while the Red Sox arrived with a miniature red bat.
Meghan, who was born in California, broke her maternity leave to attend the Queen's birthday celebrations in June, but skipped the opportunity to meet U.S. President Donald Trump's during his visit to London earlier this month.
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