Jun 7, 2024 - Sports

Phillies fans party across the pond for London Series

England cricketer Jos Buttler takes part in a baseball masterclass with MLB Legend Chase Utley.

The Americans are coming! England cricketer Jos Buttler takes part in a baseball masterclass with MLB legend Chase Utley. Photo: Juan Gasparini/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Grease those poles, London. Phillies fans are heading across the pond.

Why it matters: London Stadium will turn a shade of deep red Saturday when the Phillies kick off a two-game series against their divisional rivals, the New York Mets.

The big picture: The games are part of the MLB's third edition of the London Series, created in 2019 to expand America's pastime to fans abroad.

  • The hosts reconfigured London Stadium, home to West Ham United FC of England's Premier League, into a baseball diamond.

State of play: The stakes are high. The Phillies are in a dead heat with the Yankees for the best record in baseball.

Yes, but: The trip isn't all business.

  • Players will explore the city and take part in fan meet-and-greets and community events, including today's Home Run Derby between retired Phillies infielder Chase Utley and the Mets' Daniel Murphy at Trafalgar Square.

What they're saying: The trip is an opportunity to showcase strong economic and tourism ties between Philadelphia and London through "sports diplomacy," Lauren Swartz, president of the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia, tells Axios.

  • More than 90,000 people from the U.K. visited Philly in 2023, second only to Canada in inbound tourism, Swartz says.
  • Plus, there are more than 800 British companies in Pennsylvania, including many in Philly, per the state.

Zoom in: Phillies fan Will Murphy tells Axios he and his brother will act as ambassadors during their trip to "convince the London fans that they should adopt" the Phillies as their new favorite team.

  • Terry Maher and his wife, both in their 70s, are visiting London for the first time to attend the series. They tell Axios they'll do their best to ensure the atmosphere mirrors the Bank.
  • "I hope the Phillies win. It's been an unbelievable year for them," Terry said.

Julie Wertheimer — a lifelong fan who has held the same season-ticket seats at Citizens Bank Park since it opened in 2004 — is also making the 7,000-mile round-trip trek.

  • Wertheimer tells Axios she's planning to honor her late father, John, who would've loved to accompany her across the pond, by bringing back mementos for her nephew, who's named after him.

How to watch: Game 1 is Saturday at 1:10pm ET on Fox.

  • Game 2 starts Sunday at 10:10am on ESPN.
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