In this final instalment of Curveballs and Sliders, Herts Baseball Club’s Joe Gray briefly explores what the future of the sport might look like.
In recent years, Major League Baseball’s motivation to globalise the sport has been unparalleled. The ease with which a truly international audience can now be entertained, thanks to high-speed internet connections, has certainly helped.
And the same can be said for the success of Asian and European teams in the World Baseball Classic, the first tournament that pits in combat national teams fielding the globe’s upper echelon of players.
The recipe might not be quite right yet, but some of the vital ingredients are on the counter, and it may now only be a matter of time before Europe hosts its first Major League Baseball game.
London has been thrown around in speculative conversations on this topic – and top-level American football has been played in the capital for a successful, and ongoing run of years – but the fanbase and infrastructure would make a continental venue such as the Netherlands a more likely first stop.
Such a move would certainly help embed the sport of baseball as something international, and not just peculiar to the United States, in the psyche of the British sports fan.
It must be stated that it is unlikely that we will ever return to a level to match British baseball’s golden era of the 1930s where crowds, on occasion, crept above 10,000.
However, with a development agency that has proved itself capable of delivering on big projects, such as the new facility at Farnham Park, and a governing body showing itself to be progressive, there is certainly reason for optimism.
It might take either a hugely generous donor or a groundswell of volunteering interest to shake the minority sport tag.
Even if we don’t, though, there is a rewarding experience to be had in many different capacities for those looking for something new to become involved in.
> Joe Gray is the founder and co-ordinator of Project COBB, the home of the chronicling of British Baseball. To visit the website click here