MLB in London: Will Baseball Hit a Home Run Across the Pond?

 

In a rivalry that dates back more than a century it is hard to find something unprecedented between two teams.

However, that will be the case this weekend when the Boston Red Sox host the New York Yankees, not in historic Fenway Park, but in London, England.

For the first time, regular season Major League Baseball games will be played in Europe, setting the stage for an exciting but nerving showcase for the league and two of its most storied franchises. The logistics of traveling abroad in the middle of the season are difficult enough, but this is much more than a set of baseball games.

Running the two-game series on June 29 and 30 has been months in the making and on many different organizational levels.

“You have all those different components and you have to break them down into each group’s area of expertise,” Dr. Pam Wojnar, Assistant Teaching Professor at Northeastern University’s Master of Sports Leadership Program said. “Don’t have your player people worry so much about the field, trust your field people, tell them what you need and they’re going to get it done.”

The league and organizations are hoping to leave a lasting impact on an untapped European market. For the series to be a success, marketing, hospitality, retail opportunities and more must be executed even better than they would be in the United States. This will require perfect harmony from the two rivals, and foreign labor, but the potential grand slam is worth the pursuit in the eyes of MLB.

“You have to keep your open lines of communication throughout, have your check-ins and all of that until the first pitch. And then you might breathe a sigh of relief,” Dr. Wojnar said. “The big sigh of relief is going to come when the game is over.”

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