Big scoring in a wild game
So much for a slow start to MLB life in London. A wild encounter saw a staggering 12 runs scored in the first inning alone - and both starting pitchers relieved of their duties. An improbable 30 runs were scored in total as the Yankees won 17-13, and fans were left not quite believing their luck - or what they had just been fortunate enough to witness in the inaugural London Series clash.
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For a first MLB game in Europe, no-one could quite fathom how or why the runs showered in from the off. Both sets of fans - and neutrals, to an even greater extent - had plenty to shout about as the raucous atmosphere swung back and forth as the runs piled up from each side. An extraordinary showcase of aggressive play and truly explosive hitting.
London was ready for MLB action
Major League Baseball has lagged behind the NFL and NBA in terms of establishing itself in Europe, but it did everything possible to make up for lost time by bringing over perhaps the two most storied teams – and certainly, the most famous rivalry.
The result was a very positive one as the Olympic Stadium was packed full of enthusiastic fans all keen – or maybe just curious – to see baseball arrive in London. While it is always difficult to judge how many spectators travelled to the UK for the game, British fans were in abundance and made themselves heard throughout.
International games make sense for MLB
It would be understandable for fans of the two teams involved in this London Series to feel aggrieved to have lost two marquee games from their annual schedule, but this broadening of horizons makes complete sense for the expansion of the sport.
Aside from the obvious marketing opportunities of tapping into an excited and committed new set of fans overseas, baseball’s long season and seemingly endless schedule lends itself perfectly to new venues and host cities, certainly more so compared to the comparatively fleeting NFL season.
Red Sox and Yankees players loved new opportunity
The majority of stars from American sports have thrived and seized the opportunities presented by each international series, but a few have regarded the mid-season trip as an unwelcome inconvenience. This did not seem to be the case at all with the Red Sox and Yankees players.
Keen to demonstrate their excitement, the players basked in the acclaim of the British fans and the vibrant atmosphere of London Stadium from the outset. With the pre-Series ceremony providing ample pomp and hype, the players responded and genuinely seemed to appreciate their new fans.
"Coming out here and playing in front of these fans, the energy they've brought, from the anthem on I got chills," Yankees star Aaron Judge said. "From our intros coming out with the flames and everything, all the way to the end with the fireworks, that was a special touch. My London experience has been great so far."
MLB got fan elements spot on
It can be easy to overdo the ‘fan park’ distractions when a big event is in town, but the NFL has long since provided a masterclass in how to entertain fans before and after a game. The MLB followed suit and got the balance just right outside the Olympic Stadium.
The enthusiasm from fans outside the batting cages prior to the game was pretty extraordinary and their proximity next to one of the main entrances enabled casual onlookers to get a special insight. Of course, an enormous superstore dominated the walk to the Stadium, but there was plenty more to whet the appetite of new and existing fans.
MLB stars know how to be London tourists
The Red Sox and Yankees stars were the ultimate London tourists upon arrival. No sooner had they viewed the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace were they suddenly touring double-decker buses and ending up enjoying a gala at the Tower of London.
Make no mistake about it, this is a business trip for the players, but they definitely managed to maximise their experience as tourists and the marketing opportunities presented to the two franchises as a result of the trip. Visibility is everything for international series games as far as the teams are concerned, and the players were consummate visitors.
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