MLB’s London Series games heralded a new era of baseball and softball development in the United Kingdom with the launch of the MLB London Legacy Programme. In partnership with the Greater London Authority, Britain’s baseball governing and development bodies – the British Baseball Federation, British Softball Federation and BaseballSoftballUK – and MLB have developed a range of initiatives to help bring baseball to more people and locations. One of these initiatives is MLB First Pitch, an entry-level baseball programme created for players ages 8-12, and designed so that adults with little to no prior baseball experience can deliver the programme with ease and confidence.

MLB First Pitch programme was first introduced in the UK in 2021 with the Youth Sport Trust, the UK’s leading charity improving every young person’s education and development through sport and play.   Through the programme we are equipping educators and delivering training to teachers in schools. In 2023, more than 300 primary schools have taken part in the programme across the country, with schools from North Cornwall to North Yorkshire taking part. Each participating school received a set of MLB First Pitch resource cards, with more than 30 activities that can be run as part of school PE lessons, lunch breaks, or after-school programmes, along with an equipment pack with everything needed to run sessions – balls, bats, bases and more. Resources to enable schools to run their own MLB First Pitch Festivals, either on their own, or with other schools, were made available along with cross-curricular resources for teachers to use to introduce MLB and baseball to pupils in a non-PE setting.

The Youth Sport Trust measured the impact of the First Pitch programme in their 2023 Evaluation Report. In 2023, more than 14,000 children took part in the First Pitch programme across 332 primary schools, including 50 schools in London.  As the MLB First Pitch programme can be tailored to fit any school environment, there was a particular emphasis on urban and lower socio-economic areas, and 47% of the participants were from ethnically diverse communities. 18% of the participants were young people with special education needs and/or disability (SEND) category, while 36% of the total participants, and 55% of the London participants, received free school meals. In total, more than 950 First Pitch sessions were delivered in the United Kingdom in 2023

With such a wide range of schools and demographics covered in 2023, feedback from both educators and pupils was vital in ensuring the programme was fit for purpose, and 74% of the participating students felt happier and more positive in participating in physical activity after experiencing First Pitch. Three quarters of the participating schools in 2023 have expressed interest in delivering First Pitch again in 2024, with the overwhelming majority of practitioners recommending the programme to other educators.

First Pitch Festivals

With the MLB London Series providing the perfect backdrop, this year saw the MLB First Pitch programme expand beyond the classroom with three First Pitch Festivals held in the run-up to the games.

Hosted by MLB and BaseballSoftballUK, MLB First Pitch Festivals were held in Cardiff, Sheffield, and London, with each featuring multiple stations packed with baseball activities. In London, special guests including World Series Champions Jake Arietta and David Eckstein, and Chicago Cubs mascot Clarke helped make the day even more special. Each participant also went home with a foam bat and ball set to inspire them to keep playing. The Festivals were a celebration of the sport and connected participants with each other along with local clubs in the community. The Festivals were capped off with 450 London pupils from 18 schools attending the London festival in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

BaseballSoftballUK led the efforts to recruit volunteers, bringing in more than 60 members of the baseball and softball community to assist with the three festivals, along with assistance from RBI Wales, the Cardiff Merlins Baseball Club, and many local London baseball clubs, including Croydon Pirates, Essex Baseball, Herts Baseball and the London Mets.

The MLB First Pitch Festivals saw the volunteers take a leading role in delivering drills and sessions to the assembled schoolchildren, giving them a direct role in developing the next generation of British baseball players.  As one volunteer commented, “I enjoyed the interaction with the kids and knowing that they are the potential future of the sport. Also really liked that I was able to meet, socialize/interact with more of the MLB/baseball/softball organisers, volunteers and all the others that helped on the day. It kind of brought the softball/baseball community united.”

Another volunteer remarked that, “Seeing kids play baseball and spending time with MLB alumni, while working closely with BSUK and MLB staff, was a pleasure.”

Holly Ireland, founder of the RBI Wales programme, reflected on the Cardiff Festival, saying, "The MLB First Pitch Festival was a wonderful opportunity for the school children in Wales to experience the skills and fun of the game. Hundreds of students benefitted from an exciting afternoon of activity and were inspired to get more involved in the sport. The event has helped significantly increase participation in Wales. The future of the sport is bright here."


While 2023 saw the best participation figures so far for the programme, the impact of MLB First Pitch on the participants, schools and volunteers is more impressive. More than 70% of the participating pupils in the programme reported an increase in confidence when playing sport, while all the surveyed practitioners felt more confident, more motivated, and more competent in their day-to-day role.

Hunter’s Bar Junior School in Sheffield, South Yorkshire introduced the First Pitch programme to their year 5 students, and the children embraced it quickly, with celebratory high fives after home runs becoming routine! 30 of the school’s pupils were able to attend the First Pitch Festival in Sheffield, with may expressing that it was the highlight of their year. The staff at Hunter’s Bar plan to expand the programme next year, with one member of staff commenting that the “resource packs make it [baseball] more accessible to all staff who potentially aren’t as confident in their PE ability.”

Longdean School in Hertfordshire serves an ethnically diverse student population and utilised the First Pitch programme as part of an event with Herts Baseball Club at their Grovehill Park in Hemel Hempstead. More than 180 students from six schools attended the day-long event, with skills and drills in the morning followed by friendly games in the afternoon. Student leaders from Kings Langley Secondary School assisted the delivery of the event, which helped their “leadership, skills and confidence” according to one teacher, emphasising the secondary impact of the First Pitch programme away from primary schools.

Ranelagh Primary School, part of the Tapscott Learning Trust, was a hub of activity during the MLB London Series, with introduction of the First Pitch programme and baseball described as ‘transformative.’ MLB, along with the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs Charities, donated a total of $35,000 to the school for a new baseball diamond the day before the Series. Ranelagh was transformed into a baseball paradise in East London, with the diamond opening in early October. Ranelagh plans to use the First Pitch programme and their new diamond, to grow the sport in their local community and have launched their own community team – the Ranelagh Rockets!

Shannon Tessier, PE Leader at Ranelagh Primary School, was thrilled with the inclusive First Pitch programme, commenting, “We found baseball, being new to the sport, offered a level playing field, aligning perfectly with our ethos of inclusive physical education”.


BaseballSoftballUK CEO John Boyd said: "This is a beautiful game. The biggest gift we can give to children is to help them find a love for our sport, and continue that love of the game throughout their lives."

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “London is proud to support the MLB London Series Legacy programme which is driving increased participation and interest in baseball across the capital. It is important that major sporting events offer real benefits and opportunities to Londoners, helping to build a better and more prosperous London for everyone.”

Vicci Wells, Head of Sport at the Youth Sport Trust, reflected on the partnership that helped drive the First Pitch programme: “‘I am thrilled to emphasize the invaluable partnership with BSUK and MLB and MLB through the First Pitch programme. This collaboration focuses on equipping educators and reaching a diverse audience of participants who may not have been engaged in sport otherwise. Together, we are not only imparting the skills of the game but also instilling values that transcend the field. This partnership is not just about playing baseball; it's about fostering health, happiness and resilience. We look forward to the year ahead, building upon the successes seen this year, and remain united in our mission to make a lasting impact. Together, with MLB and BSUK, the Youth Sport Trust is poised to shape a brighter future for our young people, one base at a time."

MLB London Series 2024 and the Future

The New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies will play in the 2024 London Series on 8-9 June 2024, and the First Pitch programme is set to grow even larger. Next year will see over 200 new schools participate in the programme in addition to the current participating schools, and more First Pitch Festivals are set for locations across the United Kingdom in the lead-up to the games. Additionally, as part of the London Series Legacy Programme, further opportunities are being explored to link more local clubs with participating primary schools, creating a local player pathway and reinforcing the First Pitch programme’s lessons.

For more information on the First Pitch Programme, please visit

For details on the MLB London Series Legacy programme, click here