British baseball and softball join the party at MLB Battlegrounds event

Fri 14 Jul 2017

This past 4th July, London’s Hyde Park was transformed into a festival of baseball and softball, thanks to the hard work and vision of our friends at Major League Baseball. The MLB Battlegrounds event attracted 8,000 spectators for its main feature, a Home Run Derby held on the main stage of the British Summer Time Festival. Held as part of the week-long festival’s open house, thousands more who came through the park would have a chance to see the sport in action. 

The Fourth of July party mixed baseball, street food and music. The Home Run Derby featured former MLB players Carlos Pena, Cliff Floyd and Shawn Green along with women’s fastpitch softball stars, England cricketers, and Great Britain Baseball’s own Gary Davison.

On behalf of the British baseball and softball community, BaseballSoftballUK coordinated several aspects of the event. It was important to us that such a public-facing event become an opportunity to make it clear that our sports are very much played here and that our community is very welcoming of new people. 

From a British baseball and softball perspective, our efforts were focussed on capitalising on the power of MLB for the benefit of our playing community. To achieve this, we recruited a volunteer workforce of 40 people, who gave up their weekday to help with the event. 

Major League Baseball was very appreciative of the support shown by the British baseball and softball community, adding that they hope this to be the first in a line of fan events here. To all of you who supported the event, thank you.

A taste of the day's activities from across social media

BSUK's batting cage proved a popular attraction throughout the day:

Batting cage

BSUK's team of volunteers were on hand to help - running the batting cage, welcoming guests of British baseball and softball, and taking the field during batting practice and the Home Run Derby:

BSUK volunteers group photo

BSUK volunteers fielding

At the start of the day, former MLB players Carlos Pena and Cliff Floyd ran a clinic for young GB Baseball players:

Then GB Baseball coaches threw batting practice to the Home Run Derby contestants on the stage, and also threw to them during the main event itself...

... in which Great Britain's Gary Davison took part:

Host Colin Murray rocked the GB jersey:

Colin Murray hosting the MLB Battlegrounds events

As the sun set over Hyde Park, Italian Federico Celli sealed victory in the Home Run Derby:

Alongside MLB Battlegrounds, BSUK ran a special Hit the Pitch '4th of July Softball Series' in Hyde Park...

Slowpitch softball in Hyde Park

... and a fastpitch softball coaching clinic at Farnham Park run by Team USA's Taylor Hoagland, who was over in the UK to take part in the Battlegrounds Home Run Derby: 

Thanks to Carl Ward-Reid and Luke Stott for the BSUK photos and videos.

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