The Yankees/Red Sox rivalry moves to London for a two-game series this weekend. Here are a few facts and tidbits to help get you acclimated…
**** Although the Red Sox are officially listed as the home team for both games, Londonites insisted the Yankees wear their home game uniforms. Major League Baseball approved. The Yankees will be wearing their mythical uniforms, the Pinstripes.
**** Yankees fans may be surprised to learn the British have one leg up on Abner Doubleday, who is generally (though not factually) given credit for “inventing” American baseball. Research shows that King George III, who sparked the colonists to revolt, played an early version of baseball as a boy. Thus, like many of us, baseball is a European immigrant. (Source: Baseball Returns To Its Origins – MLB.com)
**** Premium seats at London’s Olympic Stadium will cost £385 for the games between the New York Yankees and World Series champion Boston Red Sox on 29 and 30 June. The top non-premium seats near the infield cost £320. Seats in the outfield corners go for £270 and £220, according to a chart on Ticketmaster’s website. Note: One British pound = $1.27 in dollars (Source: Currency Converter)
**** Start times are 1:10 p.m. EDT (Saturday); 10:10 a.m. EDT (Sunday). In London, accounting for the time differential, Saturday’s game is a night contest while Sunday’s game will be played in the afternoon. The Yankees have Thursday and Friday off to make the flight and get themselves acclimated.
**** Masahiro Tanaka will start Saturday’s game for the Yankees. James Paxton is a possible starter on Sunday, but he may be held back to start against the Mets next Tuesday. Rick Porcello and Eduardo Rodriguez will make the starts for Boston.
**** Yankees/Red Sox rosters will increase from 25 to 28 players for the series. Only 26 can dress for the games. Once the 26th man is named, he stays for both games and cannot be substituted for. He also must be a position player, not a pitcher. Players 27 and 28 are there to cover for injuries. The Yankees have not made their selections as of today.
**** London Stadium is a multi-purpose outdoor stadium at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in the Stratford district of London. It was constructed for the 2012 Summer Olympics. Seating capacity is around 66,000. As expected, both games are sellouts.
**** The field has been retrofitted for baseball. The games will be played on artificial turf.
**** Winston Churchill, Freddie Mercury, Henry VIII, and the Loch Ness Monster will all be present at London Stadium. That’s right, believe it or not. In a takeoff on the Washington National’s Presidents Race for each of their games, a race between these contestants will take place during each game. Racers were selected by popular vote of fans.
**** MLB has trained 700 [local] volunteers that will help the regular ushers and ticket takers to help explain baseball. They were taught how to sing ‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame,’ so they can lead their section into singing the national anthem of baseball.
**** The field will have some interesting dimensions. The field will be 330 feet down each foul line, and it will have a distance of 385 feet to center field, which will feature a 16-foot wall.
It will also have “Oakland-like” foul territory, referencing the Athletics‘ Oakland Coliseum expanse
**** The grounds crew will do the Y-M-C-A [routine, to the classic Village People tune] the way they do at Yankee Stadium, and they’ll also play ‘Sweet Caroline’ [as they do at Fenway Park].
**** MLB has already scheduled the Chicago Cubs and the St. Louis Cardinals to play in London next year in July.
Summarizing: MLB is deadly serious about its efforts to expand interest in America’s Pastime in Europe.
Just don’t be surprised if you hear the public address announcer scream “G-O-O-A-A-L when Aaron Judge blasts a home run.