BaseballSoftballUK supports MLB to deliver London Series legacy events

Mon 13 May 2019

Events and activities designed to create a lasting legacy from the Mitel & MLB Present London Series 2019, the first Major League Baseball games in Europe, are set to launch later this month and BaseballSoftballUK, the development agency for the two sports in Britain, is playing a role to support MLB in delivering a number of these initiatives.

Activities will run from late May through to September, but the centrepiece of the summer will be the two regular-season MLB games between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox to be played at London Stadium on 29 and 30 June.

Many of the legacy events around the Mitel & MLB Present London Series 2019 will take place at the Farnham Park Baseball and Softball Complex near Slough, built by BaseballSoftballUK and opened in 2013 as the UK’s only purpose-built complex for the two sports.

Other events will take place at the Community Track next to London Stadium.

The purpose of all the events surrounding the Mitel & MLB Present London Series 2019 is to ensure that the MLB games to be played in the UK create a lasting legacy in the form of increased awareness of baseball and softball, increased participation in the two sports – especially by children and young people – and increased fan engagement.

Legacy events

One of the first London Series legacy events will be MLB’s Coach Development Programme, scheduled for the weekend of 25-26 May at Farnham Park and designed to upskill British baseball and softball coaches.  Around 30 UK-based coaches, many of whom coach in BaseballSoftballUK’s Academy and High Performance Academy programmes, are expected to attend, and will receive expert instruction delivered by MLB’s European Development Team.

During the following week, from 27-31 May, BaseballSoftballUK’s Farnham Park Baseball and Softball Complex will host the MLB Cadet Camp for young baseball and fastpitch softball players from 13 to 19 years, offering first-class coaching opportunities to selected young baseball and softball talent in the UK.  As well as playing host to the event at its facility, BaseballSoftballUK is providing safeguarding support and helping deliver the softball programme.

The pace of events will intensify during the week before the Yankees and Red Sox renew their iconic rivalry at London Stadium.

On Sunday 23 June, MLB Cup London 2019, a closed-entry competition for young baseball and softball players, will take place at PLAY BALL Park, a single diamond on the Community Track.  The tournament will be played by four Majors (Under-13) baseball teams based on clubs that have chartered to Little League in the UK for the 2019 season, as well as two softball teams selected by BaseballSoftballUK.

MLB Cup London 2019 will be followed on 24-26 June by a series of free sessions where MLB will invite local students and teachers from East London to participate in intensive, fun clinics at PLAY BALL Park demonstrating casual forms of playing baseball and softball.  All participants will receive free casual equipment and apparel to enable them to continue playing in future.

PLAY BALL Park will serve as the hub for all youth-focused baseball and softball activity in the run-up to the London Series games, providing a quality, safe environment for local students and community groups and offering inclusive and engaging baseball and softball activity.  The PLAY BALL Park space will include a temporary baseball/softball diamond, pitching tunnels, batting cages and baseball virtual reality portals.

PLAY BALL events are MLB’s signature youth engagement activity, demonstrating the positive way the game can serve as an outlet for physical activity, fun with friends, and learning how to play baseball and softball at a basic level.  The overall initiative is spearheaded by flagship partners USA Baseball and USA Softball, and is supported by a variety of partners, including Major League clubs, Minor League Baseball, the US Conference of Mayors, Little League Baseball International and MLB Sponsors such as Chevrolet, Scotts, and Kingsford.

Finally, on 25-27 June, the MLB European Elite Development Tournament will be run at Farnham Park.  The tournament will feature the 90 best teenage baseball players from 14 European countries, including the Great Britain, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Ukraine.  The three-day tournament will serve as a showcase of MLB’s Europe-wide elite development programme and will be attended by scouts from MLB teams.

In addition to events for UK-based baseball and softball players and coaches, MLB will be staging a three-day baseball festival called London Yards from 28-30 June near Brick Lane in London.  The free but ticketed event will include music, baseball virtual reality interactives, Boston and New York cuisine and live screenings of the Yankee-Red Sox games. 

During the games

On Saturday 29 June, BaseballSoftballUK will hold a Watch Party at the Farnham Park Baseball and Softball Complex , where people unable to attend the opening game of the Mitel & MLB Present London Series 2019 in person can watch the game on a large screen at the Home Plate clubhouse on site.

Meanwhile, during the week leading up to the Mitel & MLB Present London Series 2019 and then inside London Stadium when the games are played, young volunteers from British baseball and softball national teams and High Performance Academy programmes have been asked by Major League Baseball to carry out important supporting roles, some of which will involve direct contact with Yankee and Red Sox players, creating a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Further volunteering opportunities during the week of the Mitel & MLB Present London Series 2019 will be communicated shortly by BaseballSoftballUK.

Boosting the sports

The Mitel & MLB Present London Series 2019, and all of the events that will take place around it, are designed to provide a significant boost to the sports of baseball and softball in the UK.

“MLB coming to London is a substantial opportunity for our sports,” said BaseballSoftballUK CEO John Boyd.  “We are thrilled that MLB has chosen this country to host the games and we’re excited about the interest generated by the Mitel & MLB Present London Series 2019 and associated activities.  Together, they should turbocharge interest in the sports among fans and potential new players alike.”

BaseballSoftballUK, a professional agency charged with the task of growing and developing the sports in Britain, is looking forward to harnessing the opportunities that will follow from Major League Baseball coming to London.

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