Mayor Khan hits a baseball home run for Crystal Palace Park

Major League Baseball is coming back to London, starting this summer with what American organisers describe as a “quickfire, non-stop action” version of the game being staged in Crystal Palace Park.

Smashing: MLB is on its way back to London

London Mayor Sadiq Khan is on a whistle-stop tour of the United States to drum up new tourism business for the capital. Overnight he announced a renewal of the London series, last played pre-pandemic in 2019, with MLB games to be played at the Olympic Stadium from 2023.

But first there’s to be a day of what’s called MLB Home Run Derby X at Crystal Palace Park on July 9 this year – a modernising of “America’s game” for the 21st Century, with plenty of pyrotechnics, music acts and all-round entertainment.

“The field of play is smaller, but the action is bigger than ever,” MLB says of the format, which is undertaking a world tour that stops off in London, Seoul and Mexico City.

“Home Run Derby X sees teams of four go head-to-head… with points up for grabs on both offense and defense and additional scoring opportunities with target hits and hot streak balls.

“Teams will be made up of MLB Legends, Superstars, Rookies and new-to-the-game Wild Cards and they will represent four Major League Baseball clubs: Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees.

“If the on-field action wasn’t enough, MLB Home Run Derby X is bringing the noise through live music, baseball-inspired activities, ballpark food, fashion and gaming; providing a high-octane day out for all.”

In 2019, London’s Olympic Stadium staged the first MLB games to be played in Europe when Sox met the Yankees. The teams that will compete in London next year will be announced at a later date.

Knocking it outta da park: London Mayor Sadiq Khan this morning

The latest initiative, Mayor Khan and the MLB officials said, aims to “increase the game’s popularity in the UK”.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said: “I’m excited to announce we are going to be back in London next summer.

“All aspects of the inaugural MLB games in London were an overwhelming success. It was clear that sports fans in London had a great appetite for baseball and that passion was shared by Mayor Khan as well as the business and media community.

“We are confident in making a long-term commitment to London and are looking forward to returning to the city with more MLB games, special fan events, and other opportunities to play and watch the game.”

the MLB said it had struck a “long-term strategic partnership” with City Hall for the next five years.

“This long-term partnership with Major League Baseball is ambitious and includes regular season games as well as a legacy programme designed to grow the number of Londoners watching and playing baseball at a grassroots level in London,” Mayor Khan said.

“Major League Baseball’s commitment to London over a number of years is very exciting for our city.

“It’s wonderful to see boys and girls playing with elite athletes, and your commitment to making sure softball and baseball endures among young people,” he said.

The Home Run Derby X is the latest high-profile event to be announced for Crystal Palace Park, being staged under the management of the park’s new trust.

The July 9 event is in addition to a mini-Glastonbury of music events, including the Wireless Festival, later in the summer.

For more information, and to book tickets, for HRDX, click here.

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16 Responses to Mayor Khan hits a baseball home run for Crystal Palace Park

  1. ebberskeith says:

    Stuff the local cricket, let’s go for a silly American adaptation of their once fine game of baseball.

    • Here at Inside Croydon Towers, we are patiently waiting for Surrey to make a return to Whitgift for their summer “festival”. Though with the large Friday night crowds at T’Oval, we can’t see them sacrificing that T20 revenue any time soon.

      • ebberskeith says:

        No chance I’m afraid, something to do with Surrey needing a guaranteed £ amount from the School before they’ll even consider returning to Croydon. Ask David Ward, Head of Cricket at Whitgift.

      • Neil Biggs says:

        I’d sooner see an effort from the council to promote a local sports festival where a number of different local teams etc were able to have demonstrations alongside food stalls etc. There must be loads of teams in Croydon that people never really hear about – do we have a Kabaddi team considering the local population of Indian decent? How about wheelchair rugby? Volleyball? I did a bit of googling earlier and Unity Allstars – Ruby (Cheerleading) who operate out of Carshalton were 3rd in the world last year in their class.

        I can’t blame Surrey for protecting their revenue, sport at the pro level is as much an economic battle as a fitness one, but if there is a value to sport, it should be in encouraging communities to get together. I saw Aussie Rules being played on Clapham Common once and of course, there was a barbecue after, the sport was just an excuse for the community to socialise and catch up on a bit of home. Maybe that is more important than the pro teams? Though obviously, maybe not as impressive!

        • What you’re saying is that locally there is no co-ordinating role on sport being played by the local authority. Yep.

          • Neil Biggs says:

            Not sure any cultural activity in the borough feels co-ordinated. You see some involvement when a developer is involved, or a big headline, but there never seems to be much interest in small efforts to actually make sustainable improvements. Sport is one example, but I think you can also make the argument for live performances with how we’ve lost the Warehouse Theatre, The Cartoon, The Gun… Nightlife is changing with population trends so I don’t think anyone could have saved the Blue Orchid, but there just doesn’t seem to be real thought about what can be done for entertainment in the borough, just a big shrug and “not my responsibility guv’ner”

    • Neil Biggs says:

      If it helps local baseball fans see a live game, I don’t see the harm in it. Personally, as someone who prefers cricket to baseball (for the same reason I prefer American football to Rugby – that higher level of tactics in the formations etc), I won’t touch it with a bargepole, but knowing a few US ex-pats, I’m glad they can get to see a game in person if they want to.

      My issue with this is that it never really links to the local sports teams and facilities. We have the Croydon Pirates for instance who play on a diamond in Roundshaw. I don’t see any information about them, or even BSUK the sports organising body, in the article which makes it questionable about how much of the event is intended to really grow the sport, vs how much it is intended as a cash cow for the US league itself. Those aren’t the same thing.

      Baseball is an Olympic sport too (currently) which would make it easier to justify that sort of effort. Sadly though, for any niche sport to get media coverage they have to find additional volunteers to essentially write the articles for free, take photos, and submit them to the local papers in the hope they have some space they need to fill.

  2. Sadiq’s trip cost us £10 million, which could have helped us here in Croydon. This silly baseball deal is a distraction. And … why do want to encourage more air travel in these CO2 choking times?

  3. Lewis White says:

    Well put, Christopher. £ 10 mill is megabucks. Even more than the council spent on sending top people to MIPIM, Cannes. How big was his entourage, and did they take a lot of extra cabin baggage?

  4. OFFS. The trip itself didn’t cost £10 million. The £10 million is the cost of the promotion.

  5. Baseball now seems only to be an Olympic sport when played in nations with an interest in the sport. It was in Tokyo and will be in Los Angeles on 2028.

    I have been to watch the St Louis Cardinals twice in St Louis.

    • Neil Biggs says:

      I’ll be honest, I’d love to see all of the ball sports stripped out of the Olympics – nothing against them as sports, or even as a type of sport, it’s just that it adds more bloat to the building requirements for the hosts. I hope that Tokyo can quickly find an alternate use for their hockey pitches etc. They also add a lot of athletes for the village to house since they are often team sports too.

      But the IOC have to get their white elephants built somewhere I guess…

  6. Colin Cooper says:

    So, not content with bankrupting Croydon the Labour Party are going to try the same trick with the the whole of London ? Wonder whose money is paying for this idiots trip, oh, silly me, that would be ours, again!

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