MLB makes surprise visit to East London primary school

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred visited his second English primary school in four years to give the game-changing gift of a new baseball diamond to East London students and the wider community.

Representatives from MLB were joined by baseball legends Albert Pujols, Jimmy Rollins, and Ryan Howard to announce a gift of a new outdoor play area to keep the legacy of the MLB World Tour: London Series alive and help grow the sport on this side of the pond.

Baseball is a hidden secret in the UK, followed by enthusiastic night owls and weekend warriors, and played by a small but resolute community and that is something BaseballSoftballUK are looking to change.

Hosting six MLB regular season games in the UK, across a four-year period provides a unique opportunity to share the magic of baseball, to catapult the sport’s popularity and exponentially increase the number of baseball and softball players throughout the country.

BaseballSoftballUK aims to increase participation by making the sports even more inclusive, improving the overall playing experience, and driving elite performance of the national squads by working with and through National Governing Bodies the British Softball Federation and the British Baseball Federation.

The students at Raneleigh Primary School were then given the opportunity to learn from the three baseball icons, and Manfred was delighted to see the students enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“In the States, if I had Albert Pujols, Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard at a youth event, there would be literally thousands of kids dying to be part of it,” said Manfred after the students took part in a series of MLB First Pitch games alongside the former professionals.

“We love baseball and one of the reasons we take our MLB clubs to places they don’t normally play like London is because we want to grow this game around the world.

“The way you grow a sport is you start at the bottom, and you start with young people, and you get young people playing the game.

“So, all the students here are important to the future of our sport, we know for baseball to be popular here we must get kids playing the game here in London and across England.

“To make that happen MLB is making a $25,000 donation to build a permanent baseball diamond here so that these kids and kids in the community will have somewhere to play the greatest game in the world.”

MLB First Pitch introduces baseball to young people across the UK, giving them an opportunity to try a new sport, learn the fundamentals of baseball and have fun playing.

The morning capped an exciting two days for the students at Raneleigh Primary School, who also attended MLB’s First Pitch Festival which took place a day before at the Olympic Park.

Paul Harris, CEO of the Tapscott Learning Trust, believes the students have developed a real passion for baseball after a thrilling week of fun.

He said: “The children were really excited; they have been building up their understanding of the game just by having fun.

“They certainly started to learn and develop a love for the sport, they were really excited to hear from the commissioner and learn what the sport is like in the USA.

“They are all engaged and actually a number of our children will be mascots at the games, so it is really starting to engage them and the community into the sport.”

BaseballSoftballUK CEO John Boyd believes developing facilities like Raneleigh Primary School’s new baseball square will help grow the game exponentially.

He added: “Stuff like this is so important, the biggest gift we can give to a kid going through the MLB First Pitch programme is to develop a love of baseball.

“This is a beautiful game, and we find kids love it, they will continue to love it all the way through their lives.

“A facility will be placed on this playground that will be designed as baseball square but that will also have multi-use, so kids are going to get an opportunity to enjoy a renewed and refreshed facility.”

BaseballSoftballUK is the national development and performance agency for baseball and softball in the United Kingdom and the accountable body for safeguarding baseball and softball, and for government investment from UK Sport and Sport England into the sport – visit

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