MLB London Series: All you need to know about New York Yankees v Boston Red Sox

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How to explain Yankees-Red Sox rivalry to foreigners
2019 MLB London Series
Dates: 29-30 June Venue: London Stadium
Coverage: Streamed live on BBC iPlayer and the BBC Sport website

The so-called 'Big Four' American sports are huge across the pond, but their popularity is also growing on British soil.

More than 275,000 fans attended one of the four NFL or NBA games London has hosted since October 2018, alongside sports stars, music artists and other famous faces.

Inspired by the success of basketball and American football, Major League Baseball is hoping to make its mark with its European debut in London this weekend.

Here's all you need to know before baseball's British arrival this weekend.

Oldest rivalry in American sport

London Stadium
Clay and dirt for the baseball field have also been imported from the US

An intrinsic part of American culture, baseball is now aiming to convince a European audience of its merit with a blockbuster fixture.

The upcoming fixtures between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox will see the biggest and oldest rivalry in US sport played out in front of more than 130,000 fans over the two days at London Stadium.

In 1920, the Red Sox sold Babe Ruth, one of the sport's greatest ever players, to the Yankees in what has since become known as 'The Curse of the Bambino'. The trade sparked an 86-year drought between 1918 to 2004 in which the Red Sox failed to win the World Series.

The Red Sox entered this week on a six-game winning streak, while the Yankees have 10 wins in the last 11 games, the most recent coming on Tuesday against the Toronto Blue Jays, in which the Yankees set a Major League Baseball record by hitting a home run in 28 consecutive games.

How can I watch it?

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MLB London: Why the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry is so big

Tickets sold out almost instantly, despite inflated costs compared to equivalent fixtures at the Yankee Stadium or Fenway Park.

Secondary ticket seller StubHub said it is the "best-selling game(s) of the 2019 regular season", with general manager Jill Krimmel adding fans from 44 American states and 27 different countries had bought tickets.

But fear not if you're not one of the lucky ticket holders, as both Saturday and Sunday's historic meetings between the two sides will be streamed live on the BBC iPlayer and BBC Sport website and app.

Saturday's game starts at 18:00 BST while Sunday's game begins at 15:00 BST.

Why London?

London Stadium
West Ham's 66,000-seater stadium has been transformed into a ball park for the weekend

The NFL has held annual regular season games in the capital since 2007. Similarly, the NBA has maintained a British presence since 2011.

So, why is 'America's pastime' late to the party?

"The NFL and the NBA have done a very good job and have been here for a long time, so they are already established in this market," MLB director of growth and strategy for EMEA Kelhem Salter said.

"We're very much looking for ways to differentiate ourselves and to stand out, but also to represent our sport and our league in a way that speaks for our values.

"So the relevance and the cultural positioning that MLB has in the UK and Europe provides a real opportunity for us to create a different proposition."

How does it work?

Looking for the rules of baseball? Head here for the lowdown - plus a nice throwback to the old BBC Sport website.

Key stats

  • 23 - Days taken to build the makeshift field
  • 36 - Number of World Series titles the two sides have won between them
  • 50 - The approximate amount of food and drink vendors selling everything from traditional Boston clam chowder to a New York staple - Buffalo wings.
  • 110 - The number of workers on site, with some drafted in from America, Canada, Mexico, and the Netherlands
  • 345 - Tonnes of dirt needed for the infield diamond
  • 700 - The number of volunteers that will help the regular ushers and ticket takers to help explain baseball
  • 2,262 - Number of times the two sides have met in history
  • 66,000 - The capacity of the London Stadium
  • 141,900 - The square footage of artificial turf imported from France

What else?

MLB's arrival in the UK is part of a week-long schedule of events that includes the Elite Development Tournament, which will bring together the 90 best teenage players from 14 countries across Europe, and a preview night at London Yards - a three-day event celebrating all things baseball in Brick Lane, East London.

And if that's not enough, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has announced the St Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs will return for the second MLB London Series on 13-14 June 2020.

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