Major League Baseball received a warm royal welcome as the league made its debut European game in London. The game, which took place at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, was attended by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle—a visit that was both unannounced and unexpected. The royal couple attended as part of their work to promote the Invictus Games Foundation, with former competitors in the Invictus Games throwing the ceremonial first pitch.
The game was played between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees (the latter are currently second favorite to win the American League). The game was part of the MLB London Series, which aims to increase the interest of baseball and the MLB in the United Kingdom and Europe as a whole.
A Family Affair
Meghan was photographed hugging Red Sox player Mookie Betts before the start of the game. Betts is a distant relative of the Duchess of Sussex, and when asked why she had hugged him, he replied “we are family somehow” and that he had been told this just a year earlier. Prince Harry made light of the incident by joking and asking if any of the other players would like to also claim to be a relative of Meghan (which resulted in several raised hands and many laughs).
Gifts Fit For a Prince
As well as competing to win the game, the players of the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox also contended in showing their support for the royal couple’s newborn child, Archie. The Red Sox gifted a red-coloured babygrow, whilst the Yankees produced a baby-sized jersey with the number 19 (the year he was born) and the name “Archie” written above it. Prince Harry told the Yankees players that they had outdone their Boston rivals.
An Unknown Quantity
Baseball is a relatively unknown sport in the UK and Europe. Whilst many are aware of the game—thanks to the permeance of American culture through TV and movies—few people describe themselves as baseball fans. In the UK, cricket (which is a distant relative of baseball) is much more popular. Reflecting the population as a whole, Prince Harry asked the Red Sox players “who normally wins”, after admitting he was not particularly up to speed with the game.
The Yankees beat the Red Sox in the two games, 17-13 and 12-8, showing why they are the favorites to win the American League. The MLB London Series has been regarded as a major success, with almost 60,000 spectators attending each game. The success of the series will likely lead to more MLB games across the pond in the near future.