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Fans at the MLB London Series bear witness to baseball’s stars in Europe



Watching your favorite team play abroad is a huge commitment — but that did not dampen the hopes of the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets fans who traveled to London for the MLB London Series.

A Phillies supporter, who is a pilot, flew over 4,000 miles to be at the London Series. A Mets fan spent £280 ($355) to rebook a flight that was canceled last-minute, while two Phillies supporters refused to pass up the opportunity to watch superstar Bryce Harper, whom they liken to Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and David Beckham.

Major League Baseball returned to the UK this weekend for a third time in six years. This weekend, at the London Stadium, the Phillies’ Harper, the Mets’ Pete Alonso, and more of the league’s top talent put on a show at the home of Premier League soccer team West Ham United and the 2012 Olympic Games.

Ahead of the two-game series, The Athletic spoke to supporters from both teams who discussed their love for baseball, why people in the UK should give the sport a chance, and how hopeful they are of their team winning the World Series.

Lu Hauck, a pilot, flew over 4,000 miles to see the Phillies play in London (Roshane Thomas / The Athletic)

Name: Lu Hauck
Age: 58
Hometown: Philadelphia, United States

“I’m a pilot for United Airlines, so I travel to London roughly four times a month. This is a big deal, so I made sure I was here for the game.

“My brother is a flight attendant and he was on my plane on Friday. All I had to do was fly to London because we’d already paid for our tickets. Mine cost roughly £89. It’s great to experience this trip with loved ones and we’ve been looking forward to it for a long time.

“I’m sitting here now seeing loads of Harper jerseys, but some of my favorite players are Ranger Suárez, Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler. It’s a great team and probably one of the best I’ve seen since following the team as a young boy.

“Baseball is a lot of fun and I know it’s not that popular here, but hopefully it will continue to grow. I’m glad Major League Baseball (is) doing this. Most Americans aren’t into soccer, so I understand why there won’t be that appeal for baseball in the UK, but sometimes people gradually like a sport and that was the case for me and my wife. We watched the 2022 World Cup and loved it! Then I started asking my British friends about it and I told them about baseball.

“The funny thing about the Phillies and Mets is, traditionally, we haven’t been good in the same year. I’ve been watching baseball since I was eight and when the Mets are good, the Phillies are terrible and vice versa. It’s a rivalry because New York and Philadelphia like to scream at each other in baseball and certainly in the NFL, but we’ve never faced the Mets in the playoffs, so hopefully that happens soon.”

Daniel Hoskins wore a Brandon Nimmo jersey to the game (Roshane Thomas / The Athletic)

Name: Daniel Hoskins
Age: 30
Hometown: Dublin, Republic of Ireland

“My flight got canceled with Aer Lingus this morning, so I had to book new flights with Ryanair, which set me back £280! I had my initial flight booked weeks in advance and they were much cheaper back then. I had to take the hit on that one because there’s no way I was missing this game. I’m here for the two games this weekend and it’s a dream being able to watch the Mets play.

Brandon Nimmo is my favorite player. He’s on the back of my jersey, so I’m looking forward to watching the king himself. I started following the team around 2011 and the Mets weren’t good back then, so it’s been great to grow with the team and my favorite memory as a supporter has to be the 2015 World Series against the Kansas City Royals. I was in college at the time and it would’ve been huge if we’d have won, but we’re hopeful of having better times now with new ownership.”

Caila Marashaj and Tim Wise are Mets fans who appreciate Bryce Harper (Roshane Thomas / The Athletic)

Names: Caila Marashaj, left, Tim Wise, right
Ages: 24, 25
Home Town: New York, United States

“We were here for the Champions League final and decided to stay longer for this. Me and my girlfriend had an eight-hour flight to London from JFK (John F. Kennedy) Airport. Caila’s flight cost £500 ($635), while mine was a bit worse at £950 ($1,200). It still hurt my pocket a little bit. This is our first time in London and we’ve really enjoyed it. It’s very similar to New York.

“I’m a Francisco Alvarez fan and Caila’s favorite player is Brandon Nimmo. The no-hitter in 2022 is a special memory for us. Over the course of nine innings, we didn’t give up a single hit to the other team — wow. And it was also one of the first times in the late 2000s that we were good again.

“When you follow the team as closely as us, you learn to appreciate just how talented you have to be to play this game. Although we’re rivals, I do like Bryce Harper because he’s phenomenal, but we’re short on pitching right now, so hopefully I bump into Zack Wheeler and convince him to join us!”

Chris Flippone and Joe Discepola visited London for the first time since the 1980s (Roshane Thomas / The Athletic)

Names: Chris Flippone, left, Joe Discepola, right
Ages: 54, 56
Hometown: Philadelphia, United States

“We’ve always wanted to come to London and this was the added incentive to come here. Although we’re here to watch the game, we also want to embrace the culture and travel to all the tourist spots. We probably won’t come to the game on Sunday, just so we can explore more of the city.

“We haven’t been to London since the 80s, so we’re looking forward to watching the Phillies kick the Mets’ ‘you know what!’ There’s not one player on their team that I’d want on our team. They all suck! All jokes aside, maybe one of their starting pitchers to complete our rotation. That’s it.

“But look at all the Phillies around us. It’s great to see that a lot of us have traveled from the States. Then you have those who live in Europe who can’t travel to the States, so they’re able to come to London and enjoy this moment.

“This team is a loveable bunch of guys; they all care about each other and it’s fun to watch them. It’s clear they have great camaraderie. I’ve been a Phillies fan since 1976 and this is probably the best team I’ve ever seen. I’m confident we’ll go all the way this year.”

Dave Cartmell and Tom Harvey appreciate how cricket and baseball require similar skills (Roshane Thomas / The Athletic)

Names: Dave Cartmell, left, Tom Harvey, right
Ages: 40, 47
Hometown: Preston and the Lake District, UK

“We’ve both been massive Phillies fans for ages. This is our first time at the London Stadium. Tom is into baseball and that’s how I got into it. Then you realize cricket and baseball have the same skill, which makes it enjoyable to watch. Bryce Harper is the star man and he, in football terms, is the Lionel Messi, David Beckham, Cristiano Ronaldo of this team. We’re glad Harper plays for us and not the Mets!”

Raphael Leuvenink, left, hopes Pete Alonso stays with the Mets beyond this season (Roshane Thomas / The Athletic)

Name: Raphael Leuvenink, left
Age: 34
Hometown: Basel, Switzerland

“Me and my partner have traveled from Switzerland and we’ve been following the Mets for 20 years. There’s a nice story behind it because we met in New York, although we haven’t been able to go back to watch a game. She was initially a San Diego Padres fan because that’s where she’s from, but she gradually switched to the Mets, which I love.

“That’s why when it was announced they would be doing the London Series, I knew we had to get tickets. I was constantly refreshing the page because I didn’t want us to miss out on this. I remember waking up every night to watch the 2015 World Series, although it was hard because we lost in the end.

“But there’s been more good times than bad times. What I love most about this team is we keep trying. We have to keep believing we can win a World Series. Hopefully, having Pete Alonso will make it possible one day. He plays well and he’s improved a lot, but his contract runs out soon, so hopefully he’ll stay.”

(Top photo: Alex Pantling / Getty Images)

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