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A Look Back At the 2019 MLB London Series Between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox

 Conor Liguori  |    Jun 7th, 2024 3:00pm EDT

A general view during the game two of the 2019 Major League Baseball London Series between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees on June 30, 2019 at West Ham London Stadium in London, England. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Hopefully, this weekend’s Major League Baseball London Series between the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets will bring fireworks similar to the first-ever London Series in 2019. To prepare for this weekend, World Baseball Network took a look back at the first MLB games played in Europe five years ago.

Chances are, people attending the first pair of MLB games in Europe never expected to see a combined 50 runs scored between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees.

But that is precisely what happened at London Stadium on June 29 and 30, 2019. Two games. 50 runs. Ten home runs and 65 hits. What a way to introduce MLB to fans of baseball across the pond.

The Yankees won both games of the two-game series by scores of 17-13 and 12-8, thanks to the long ball. Game one lasted four hours and 42 minutes, and game two was just 18 minutes shorter. Remember, there was no pitch clock, and frequent changes are made when your pitching staff cannot make it through one clean inning.

Many consider the biggest historical rivalry in sports to be the Yankees and the Red Sox, so each team wanted to make a lasting impression on those in attendance and have new fans of the team. The Yankees may have won both games, but both organizations made loud statements.

Facts, Feats, and Firsts

1. Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Rick Porcello threw the first ever MLB pitch in Europe to New York Yankees leadoff hitter DJ LeMahieu, who poked a fastball to right field for a single.

2. Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks hit the first MLB home run in Europe, a two-run moonshot to right field to cap off a six-run top of the first for New York.

3. Game one (four hours, 42 minutes) was three minutes shorter than the longest nine-inning game in MLB history (August 18, 2006, New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox).

4. The Red Sox’ Xander Bogaerts, J.D. Martinez, and Christian Vazquez each hit home runs in the first inning of game two. It was the first time since Aug. 14, 1979  that Boston hit three home runs in the first inning, when Carlton Fisk, Fred Lynn, and Carl Yastrzemski accomplished the feat.

5. A total of 118,718 people attended the two-game series. They all witnessed a star-studded mascot race between Freddie Mercury, King Henry VIII, Winston Churchill, and the Loch Ness Monster, which saw the lead vocalist of Queen cross the finish line first.

Instant Reaction from MLB Commissioner

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred attended both games during the 2019 London Series and told Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal that the event had surpassed his expectations.

“It’s actually better than I believed it could be,” said Manfred during the broadcast of the first game. “The atmosphere here is absolutely fantastic. Two hours before the game, we counted the people coming into the stadium, and we had over 15,000 people in the ballpark two hours before the game, which was just great for us.”

During that interview in 2019, Manfred added that he hoped MLB could play regular-season games in different European cities. That is yet to happen.

There were rumors that MLB “juiced” baseballs in 2019 to increase scoring, but a 27-page report on the results of a study conducted by Dr. Jim Albert of Bowling Green University, Peko Hosoi of MIT, Dr. Alan Nathan of the University of Illinois, and Dr. Lloyd Smith of Washington State and released by the league in December 2019 revealed no evidence of Rawlings or MLB tampering with the balls. Even without juiced baseballs, the Yankees and Red Sox put on an offensive display for first-time MLB and baseball watchers.

MLB in the United Kingdom Since 2019

Since 2019, the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals played a two-game series at London Stadium in 2023, and the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies will play the third MLB London Series this weekend on Saturday, June 8, and Sunday, June 9.

MLB intends to hold a London Series in 2026, but the teams or dates of the games have yet to be announced

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Conor Liguori