For baseball fans, there is arguably no greater rivalry than the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. Last July, our fans got to experience that match-up in London on the same day they took in a Vincent van Gogh exhibition at the Tate Britain art museum.
Al Clark, a retired American league and Major League Baseball umpire who frequently has a role on our tours as speaker or guide, led last year’s baseball in London adventure and says fans had a diverse experience that included taking in all London has to offer and dining on authentic pub food like fish and chips and shepherd’s pie.
Though MLB games had been played in Mexico, Puerto Rico and even Japan, last year marked the first time the bases were run across the Atlantic. Thirty-eight of our Sports Travel and Tours guests were thrilled to witness the occasion. Al, known for his Ump’s Eye View talks that offer a behind-the-scenes look at the sport, is excited to return to London for another baseball experience in June with the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs facing off.
Running from Thursday, June 11 to Monday, June 15, Baseball in London: Cubs and Cardinals will kick off with a reception and Ump’s Eye View talk with Al. After 26 years behind the plate, Al entertains fans with stories—such as what it was like to officiate at Nolan Ryan’s 300th win or Cal Ripken’s record-breaker.
Travelers will stay at the Hard Rock Hotel London at Hyde Park, featuring memorabilia and artwork in every bedroom that pays tribute to former residents such as Jimi Hendrix, Diana Ross, Bob Dylan, and Buddy Holly. The hotel is also a short walk from shopping on Oxford Street, which is an option on Friday through Sunday, when guests will have leisure time to explore outside of attending the two matchups at the former Olympic Stadium.
Travelers who want to explore even further afield will be pleased that everyone will receive a ticket for a hop-on, hop-off sightseeing bus as well as an Oyster Card to access London’s trains.
“We plan for a lot of free time, which allows everyone to do what they want with these passes,” Al says. Though Al is only so familiar with the city himself, a concierge who runs his own tour company in London is available to help with planning destinations.
He adds, “Sports Travel and Tours President Jay Smith leaves no stone unturned when it comes to providing for the traveler. Whenever he sees something new that could enhance a baseball fan’s experience, Jay will research it and make it happen.”
When leading a baseball tour, Al says it is always the games themselves over which travelers bond.
“The common denominator is baseball,” Al says. “Baseball fans have the same DNA, so to speak, and the same cultural thought process, so they tend to get along instantly. Over the course of five days, travelers get to know each other pretty well.”
Last year’s trip, Al says, was certainly one for the books.
“It was absolutely tremendous to go to London to see the Yankees and the Red Sox play at a venue other than Yankee Stadium or Fenway Park,” he says. “It was just so different. It was exciting for the fans and for Americans living in London, who got to see the best baseball rivalry in the country.”
While it will certainly be difficult to top last year’s trip, Al is confident that Jay’s exceptional trip planning abilities will make that possible. If the immediate popularity of the trip is any indication, our guests think so, too.
“The trip is more than half-full already, and it hasn’t even been advertised yet, so I fully suspect we’ll have close to 50 travelers,” Al says. “Jay creates such a unique experience for travelers on a trip like this, they won’t want to miss it. No matter where we’re going, because of Jay’s meticulous planning skills, we’re prepared, and we have fun every step of the way.”
Learn more about Baseball in London: Cubs and Cardinals.