Preface: Baseball is America's pastime. From the hot dogs, open-air stadiums, and the chance to catch a souvenir, Americans love going to baseball games.
Even with the sport's deep roots in America, many countries have formed strong baseball traditions, culture, and followings. In 2019, 251 MLB players who made the Opening Day roster were from 20 countries outside the Unites States. In fact, the United States national team has only won one of four World Baseball Classics, the international tournament equivalent to the World Cup, as of 2020. Countries such as Japan, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and others have contributed some of the game's greatest players.
With greater international engagement in many countries, where does baseball fall among sports fans in the United Kingdom? While the national team has not had recent success (no appearances in the World Baseball Classic), Great Britain did host the first MLB games in Europe in 2019 that were deemed a wild success.
Three fans from Great Britain recently started their own podcast, Birds With Balls, sharing their takes on various MLB and British baseball topics. Hear their story now on being major baseball fans in the UK.
Brits & Baseball: A Look At America's Pastime In The United Kingdom
By Jo, Molly, and Tracey of the Birds With Balls Podcast
Baseball in the UK...who would have thought that it would catch on. Well, if you happened to catch the MLB London Series in 2019 and saw the crowd, you would know that it did catch on, and it has been building up for quite some time.
Did you know that there is also a committed following of fans that make a big effort to watch as many games as they can, which can mean some very late nights or early mornings depending on where our teams are playing at the time?
Altogether, there are nearly 50,000 people that follow the different Twitter team accounts, with a central body - MLB UK Community - organizing events (when they can!) and generally keeping everyone informed about what is going on in the baseball community in the UK.
We are a small part of that community, we are Birds With Balls, a new podcast made up of 3 British female fans - Tracey, Molly, and Jo. The name of the podcast is very tongue-in-cheek and poking fun at ourselves, in the UK “Bird” is slang for a woman, and our preferred sports all have balls. We’re all very feisty and passionate (ballsy) and so Birds With Balls was born.
We decided that there was a real gap in the market for something like this - a place to talk about baseball from a women’s point of view, issues that affect women in sport as well as sharing some inspirational stories and just our perspectives on sports in general.
We’re from different parts of the UK. Two of us are Mets fans (Tracey and Jo), and Molly is a Dodgers fan, but we are united in our passion for baseball, sports in general, and raising awareness of the issues that women in sports can face. So far we have had a positive reaction from this!
As well as the various fan groups, there are so many up and coming British baseball teams. A lot of these teams are forming ladies teams and there will be a Great Britain Women's Team being formed this year too. Jo and Molly both play for Bristol Baseball Club, where Molly is also a director. Tracey doesn’t play, but is keen to get to watch a game in Sheffield when it is safe to do so!
Molly is a relative newcomer to the sport, after watching the film A League of Their Own and googling where her nearest ballclub was where she found out the team was having local sign ups. She also fell for cheering for the Dodgers.
Molly Sporting Her Dodgers World Series Hoodie. Interested in Getting This Hoodie? Purchase It Here: Dodgers WS Hoodie
Jo has been a baseball fan since about 2015 after seeing a game on TV. After finding out more, she decided that the Mets were her team. She has been out to the U.S. a few times to catch games in New York, Miami, and Boston!
Jo With Mr. Met. Interested in Getting A New Mets Jersey? Purchase Here: Various New York Mets Jerseys
Tracey has been a fan for the longest time out of all of us. After catching a game at Shea Stadium in 2006 with her then-boyfriend (they are now married, and both still Mets fans), she fell in love with everything there, and has been lucky enough to catch a few Mets games every year since then. (Other than last year, damn you COVID!) at home in NYC and on the road in Baltimore and Philadelphia.
For us as British baseball fans, the MLB series in London in 2019 was an amazing moment; seeing so many fans brought together by a love of the game, to enjoy a moment in history was magical. We were even able to meet many other fans that we previously had only spoken to online. It was magical for us all, even as individuals who weren’t there as fans of the teams playing, but as baseball fans. It was a special moment for the UK, and its fans, as we will always treasure the memory. We hope to be able to experience it all again, as soon as it is safe to do so.
Speaking of when it is safe, one of the first things that we want to do is go on holiday and catch a ballgame. We want to enjoy the atmosphere with our family and friends, or just talk to our fellow online fans about the game, sharing our love and banter for the sport we have grown so fond for.
If you would like to know more about us you can find us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram @birdwithballs, and you can listen to our podcast wherever you listen to your pods by searching for “Birds With Balls” on the platform, or www.anchor.fm/birdswithballs
We hope to connect with many new fans soon to share our love of the game with!
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