UK Red Sox Fans Bask in Glory of London Series

The Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees kicked off the inaugural London Series on June 29th in London, England. In what the MLB plans to be an annual event, the Red Sox and Yankees enthralled almost 60,000 fans at Queen Elizabeth Stadium in London that saw the Yankees win both games. Many American baseball fans made the epic trek across the pond for the series while a large number of UK Red Sox fans came to root for their favorite baseball team.

Little did I know that in the United Kingdom (UK) exists a large UK Red Sox fanbase. They haveUK Red Sox their own Facebook page, and their fans’ love for the Red Sox know no bounds. I spoke with Adam Perry, the moderator of the Boston Red Sox Fans of the UK Facebook page, to learn more about his, and other UK fans’, love for the Red Sox.

“I was a Red Sox fan rather than a baseball fan,” Perry told me in a July 8th Skype interview. “And because of that you kind of get to know the game, the intricacies, the players, the history. So that was the start of it for me. I mean everybody has different reasons for doing it. And when [UK fan club] did start gathering, which was about 20 years ago before the advent of social media, we used to just gather together in a sports bar in London and used to watch the games. We were one of the first sort of supporters or fans of any US sports team that were doing this, which is quite unique.”

Perry wasn’t the only fan that I got to speak with about their love for the Red Sox. After posting a message to their Facebook group asking other fans to talk about how they became fans, I was inundated with dozens of messages, notes, and postings from UK Red Sox fans detailing their love for baseball.

UK Red Sox Fans Love the Game As Much As Americans Do

Janine Pipe stated, “I became a fan after honeymooning in Boston during the famous ALCS in 2004.”

Philip Harris’ love for the Red Sox started with a teacher. “[It was] 1965. I had an American exchange teacher (I was 7-8 years old) who came from Boston and taught me about the Celtics, Bruins, and Sox. Been a fan ever since.”

Sam “Mulldog” Mullan’s love for the Red Sox came from a G.I. his aunt married. “My aunt married a US G.I. after WW2 and moved to Boston. Every time they visited they’d bring something Sox related. One of my baby photos was me in a Red Sox baby grow. Played baseball on the UK for Plymouth Mariners and loved the game! Saw my first game in 2004 and every season I have seen a game at Fenway they have won the World Series.”

Ceri Lewis said, “I’m Welsh. A Celt. So took an interest in the Celtics. Then came the Patriots in 1984. Seemed logical. I was 12 years old. The Red Sox sort of followed but it was baseball I truly fell for. My 25th birthday surprise from my wife was a trip to Fenway. I shook at the sight of the Green Monster. From the outside! I cried. It was wonderful. That was 1997. My fascination became a full blown love affair.”

Christopher Pease’s love began with a baseball movie. “My journey into becoming Sox fan began after seeing The Natural in 1984. It was my first experience of anything baseball and I fell in love with the game at that moment. Following the game was very difficult back then. Two week old copies of USA Today from stores near the American Embassy in London and late night radio broadcasts on Armed Forces Network had to satisfy my growing interest. Luckily British Television broadcast the 1986 [World Series] and I found my team.”

So how did these fans feel about the London Series?

“My Red Sox came to my home town,” Lewis added. “I am still buzzing now. I just wished they brought a feckin bullpen too.”

UK Red Sox Fans A Little Miffed With Team Snub

While most UK Fans were more than thrilled to see the Red Sox come to London, some were disappointed that the Red Sox organization didn’t do more to reach out to its UK Red Sox fans.

“The Yankees came and they did some community stuff,” Perry added. “They brought [some] legends over. But the Red Sox didn’t do anything. We tried to engage and the numbers that we had, I asked if they could send somebody over…to come to our meets on a Saturday.”

It was Major League Baseball, not the Red Sox or Yankees, that oversaw all the operations for the London Series. That fact may explain why the Red Sox did not take on a larger role in reaching out to its UK fanbase; the MLB planned everything. Regardless, Perry thinks the Red Sox could have shown a little more attention to UK Red Sox fans.

“They missed a big opportunity…that’s the one real disappointing thing I think of the whole weekend and beforehand. And I don’t know why that is. I think the Yankees, believe it or not, we’re better at it. They don’t have many fans that they invited some of their fans to meet some of the players on the flight.”

While Pease loved the series, he echoed Perry’s views. “My only gripe was the lack of Red Sox interaction with fans here. Alex Cora did not seem happy to be here either. The Yankees, however, brought over several alumni including Nick Swisher who really had fun meeting fans and young players during the weekend.”

That doesn’t mean, however, that he didn’t have fun.

“We spent several years looking forward to the London Series and it was so amazing, almost dream like,” Pease added. “Next year just isn’t going to be the same even though I will be rooting for Theo’s boys!”

Red Sox Swept in Inaugural London Series Against Yankees

The New York Yankees swept the Boston Red Sox in the inaugural London Series opener on June 29-30th at Queen Elizabeth Stadium in London, England. While the Red Sox took the lead in both games, the team’s lackluster bullpen saw to it that the New York Yankees swept the Boston Red Sox in the inaugural London Series. Seeing the Red Sox swept in another country not only adds to Red Sox Nation’s disappointment, but also makes one wonder if the team will make it to the playoffs in the fall.

Red Sox Swept Before Crowd Made Up of Sox Fans

As one would expect, the series itself did not shy away from pomp and circumstance.red sox swept Each game’s pre-game ceremonies included fireworks, live music, and ostentatious starting lineup announcements (with fire-breathing machines “announcing” the entrance of each player running onto the field). Both games started with the American National Anthem, as well as the British National Anthem complete with oversized flags of each country rolled out by Her Majesty’s royal military. What followed the opening ceremonies though was nothing short of American.

Organizers of the event pulled out all the stops for the series. Ushers had copies of the lyrics to “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” to ensure they knew how to sing along, and teach other non-Americans how as well. Multiple announcements were made instructing the crowd that they could keep foul balls (In cricket matches the fans supposedly have to throw the ball back, as rules dictate that the same ball must be used for the entire game). It didn’t seem necessary though, as many of the fans that I met had come from the United States for the games; most were Red Sox fans.

As someone who attended the games, I loved that the stadium organist played tunes such as “Charge!” as well as a flawless rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” Major League Baseball clearly worked very hard to ensure that the English got a healthy dose of American baseball and the ones I talked to seemed to enjoy it!

Vendors offered a wide range of different food options, including hot dogs, sausages, popcorn, and  ice cream. There were so many different types of beer that I lost count. In true modern ballpark fashion, prices for a t-shirt, pins, and hats were astronomical once you figured the exchange rate from pounds to dollars.

Fans could have almost anything they wanted. If they were a Red Sox fan though, victory was the one thing they couldn’t buy.

Red Sox Swept By a More Dominant Team

I’ll spare you the details, as explaining the play-by-play of how the Red Sox blew leads in both games would take more words than the 900 allotted. Their performance, however, proved that no matter where they are, or what city/country they travel to, their bullpen headaches will follow. Seeing the Red Sox swept in another country adds to Red Sox Nation’s disappointment. It also makes one wonder if the team will make it to the playoffs in the fall. Additionally, while it’s hard to admit, the Yankees were the better team. They were more focused, they knew how to handle the Sox’s pitching, and they exploited weaknesses.

Will the Red Sox come from behind and overcome the Yankees by fall? I don’t think so. But then again, I’ve been wrong before.

Bill Buckner Taught Red Sox Nation How to Endure

News that Bill Buckner had passed away on May 27th after battling dementia shocked Red Sox Nation. Despite a strong career, many fans remembered Buckner for only one thing: Game Six of the 1986 World Series. Buckner lived with that memory for the rest of his life and was unfairly blamed for losing the World Series for the Sox. If the Red Sox hadn’t gone sixty-eight years without having won a championship, and had to wait another eighteen years to win one, perhaps Buckner would have been remembered more positively. If there’s one thing that Bill Buckner taught Red Sox Nation though it’s how to endure and persevere.

Buckner had quite a distinguished career. He collected over 2700 hits, was an All-Star,bill buckner taught and a batting champion. His career spanned four decades (1969-1990). In over 10,000 at-bats, Buckner only struck out 453 times. That stat in itself is absolutely astounding. It’s no wonder that his name came up in discussions about potential Hall of Famers. So why didn’t his statistics get more recognition? Simple. Mookie Wilson’s grounder that went through Buckner’s legs in Game Six of the 1986 World Series not only made him the butt of jokes for years to come, but became the symbol of the bad luck that had plagued the Red Sox since selling Babe Ruth to the Yankees. Even though the Red Sox were already in trouble before Wilson even came to the plate, Buckner was still the scape goat.

Despite Wilson’s Grounder, Bill Buckner Taught Fans How to Endure

In this age where one mistake can end entire careers, Buckner stood as a symbol of endurance. He’s an example of how people can recover from what many sports fans might see as a mistake from which there is absolutely no chance of recovery. He didn’t crawl into a hole and hide from the world. Buckner recognized what he did, but he faced the reality of the situation. He didn’t try to blame others. There were no made up excuses. He answered questions about the incident in countless interviews. Buckner even signed photos of the ball going through his legs as Wilson hustled towards first base. Although he was compared to players like Fred Snodgrass and Fred Merkle, Buckner didn’t let it define him. He chose NOT to be play victim.

In time, Red Sox Nation forgave him. Buckner found his redemption (if he was even looking for it. If anything, he forgave Red Sox Nation!). More importantly though, despite the bad hand he was dealt in his career, Buckner went on to prove that one’s life isn’t over in the wake of such a tragedy. There is a chance to recover and find happiness again. We do get a second chance at life; there are do-overs.

I was at Fenway Park when Buckner’s death was announced before the start of the game on Sunday. No one jeered or shouted anything about ’86. No one in my section said anything demeaning. If anything, people shouted “Yeah Buckner! We love you!” Red Sox Nation had clearly learned to move on (though winning four World Series in the last fifteen years has certainly helped heal those wounds). Clearly Bill Buckner taught us that life continues after mistakes, and that they don’t define the way one is remembered if you don’t let them.

Baseball itself is a symbol of second chances. Nine of them, in fact. And no one knew that better than Bill Buckner.

Cora Deserves Respect for White House Decision

Alex Cora finally made his decision this week about whether he would go with the team to The White House to celebrate their World Series victory. Cora is not going. Neither are many of the other players including Xander Bogaerts, David Price, and Rafael Devers. Whether you agree with him or not on this issue, Cora deserves respect for his decision. He’s the manager, and he’s setting an example about doing what one feels is right in the face of adversity.

“The government has done some things back home that are great, but we still have a longcora deserves respect ways to go,” Cora is quoted as saying to the Associated Press. “That’s our reality. It’s pretty tough to go celebrate when we’re where we’re at. I’d rather not go and be consistent with everything.” Cora may have been referring to The White House’s claim that $91 billion was allocated to help rebuild Puerto Rico in the wake of a devastating hurricane. That number is well below what the unincorporated U.S. territory has actually received. While Cora did not specifically mention the president, it is difficult to ignore the white elephant in the room.

Red Sox Nation hasn’t hesitated at all to chime in with their opinion about Cora’s decision, many of them negative that question his patriotism and devotion to America. Some are angry that Cora isn’t showing respect for the U.S. President, whose office has a tradition of hosting victory celebrations for teams that won their respective championships. While this is true, today’s political climate has made it very challenging for sports teams to decide whether to visit The White House as part of their celebrations. Some say that teams should go regardless of who is president because that’s tradition. Others argue though that to go would not only validate the president’s controversial actions, but is a betrayal of their own feelings.

Cora Deserves Respect for Staying True to his Homeland

Cora is Puerto Rican and therefore American by birth. However, his primary allegiance is, and always will be, to his homeland. You can’t blame him for that. The fact that he made a well-thought out and articulate decision reflects his maturity. It also reflects his professionalism. In my view, he is saying that he will not partake in a celebration when there’s still so much to be done. Frankly, not only is he entitled to that belief, but he doesn’t really have to answer to anyone for his decision other than to ownership, and God.

The controversy to not attend such events at The White House is nothing new. The focus on a zero sum scenario where one side has to be completely correct and justified, and the other side can’t have even a modicum of respect makes it challenging to have rational discussions about this topic. Cora did not personally criticize anyone though. He showed his appreciation for what the government has done, but is also stating that there’s much more to do. Furthermore, Cora is not obligated to fulfill anyone’s definition of patriotism or loyalty. While he will have to accept any consequences of his decision, it doesn’t make him any less of a man. Going to The White House wouldn’t make him a patriot anymore than standing in a garage would make him a car.

I commend Cora for standing up for himself, and more importantly, for Puerto Rico. There’s a rich history of athletes, both Democrat and Republican, who received their fair share of criticism for making similar decisions. At the end of the day, anyone who says that Cora is making a political statement is missing the point. If anything, they’re contradicting themselves by trying to make it about politics. It’s not about politics, it’s about doing what he thinks is right. With that said, Cora deserves respect for his decision not to go to The White House.

Is Benintendi the Next Yastrzemski?

Only those who saw Carl Yastrzemski play in the 1960s and 70s can really say whether anyone on the current roster can field and hit as well as the legendary Red Sox left fielder. Yaz’s status in Boston is only second to Ted Williams (and I would argue is well above David Ortiz). While Mookie Betts and Chris Sale certainly take the cake when it comes to the team’s top stars, this writer would argue that Benintendi is just starting what could become one of the greatest careers in Boston. Does that mean Benintendi is the next Yastrzemski?

Benintendi and Yastrzemski Side by Side

It’s hard NOT to compare the two. They both play in left field. Both came along shortlynext yastrzemski after the departure of legendary Red Sox hitters (Williams and Ortiz). They are both roughly the same size (5’11, 175 and 5’10, 170, respectively). They both posted solid numbers in their first full season in the majors with Benintendi hitting .271 with 20 HRs, and 90 RBIs while Yaz hit .266 with 11 HRs, and 80 RBIs. Statistically speaking, their first few years in the big leagues are not too different from one another. Does that mean Benintendi is the next Yastrzemski though? Hardly.

First of all, it wasn’t just the numbers that Yaz posted in his career that made him so legendary. He all but single-handedly carried the Red Sox to the World Series on his bat in the last two weeks of the 1967 season by hitting .491 (27/55) with five homers and 18 RBIs in the last fifteen games of the season. In his career, Yastrzemski won the 1967 Triple Crown and MVP, was an 18x All-Star, and a 7x Gold Glove Winner. Playing his entire career in Boston from 1961 to 1983 only cemented his status in Boston as one of the all-time greats. Benintendi, however, is only entering his third full season in the majors, but he’s already made strong impressions.

Benintendi’s Making Marks of His Own

Anyone who was watching Game 2 of the 2018 World Series will never forget the amazing catch Benintendi made to snuff out the Dodgers’ Brian Dozer’s hopes of getting a base hit. This catch came days after Benintendi made a game-saving robbery of a hit from the Astros’ Alex Bregman in the ALCS. Both catches factored significantly in Red Sox victories in those series. They also boosted Benintendi’s status as a strong left fielder. His abilities leave no doubt that Benintendi has the chance to be the next Yastrzemski of Boston.

So Is Benintendi the Next Yastrzemski?

It’s too early to tell right now. It’s rare for players to stay with one team for their entire careers anymore. If Benintendi stays in Boston though, it will surprise no one if twenty years from now we see his jersey number 16 retired alongside Yaz’s.

Congrats and Thank You From the Yawkey Way Report

The staff of the Yawkey Way Report would like to congratulate the Boston Red Sox for winning the 2018 World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers!

The staff of the Yawkey Way Report would also like to thank Red Sox Nation for its support during the 2018 season. Without you we wouldn’t have had the success we had this season.

We look forward to seeing what good fortune 2019 brings us and seeing the great fans of Red Sox Nation back in the spring!

And again, congratulations to the Boston Red Sox for defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series!