As a life-long Major League baseball fan, I’m used to a fair amount of teasing about the name of our championship series.
The World Series? Really? When all the teams who could possibly be in it are from the USA, except for the Toronto Blue Jays?
I get it. Compared to the FIFA World Cup, which involves teams from 32 countries and six continents, calling our series the “World” series sounds pretty ridiculous.
But when you look a little closer, Major League Baseball is a lot more international than it may seem.
Many of MLB’s best players are from other countries – in fact, on opening day 2018, 29% of players were born outside the 50 United States. The teams represented 21 different countries and territories, an all-time record.
It’s too soon to say who will be in the 2018 World Series – but as of this writing, the contenders are the Boston Red Sox, the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Milwaukee Brewers, the New York Yankees, and the Houston Astros.
Those teams have players from Japan, South Korea, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Colombia, Aruba, the Netherlands, and Venezuela (and also Canada, Curaçao, and Mexico, if you go beyond the 25-man playoff rosters).
None of the players on the 2018 opening day roster were Costa Rican – but those iconic white baseballs with the red stitching are.
Though Rawlings Sporting Goods, headquartered in Missouri in the heart of the United States, is the official baseball supplier for Major League Baseball, the balls themselves are nearly all manufactured in Turrialba, Costa Rica. Around eight to 10 dozen balls are used in a typical MLB game, meaning nearly 1.8 million balls are sent to the U.S. each year. And because the stitching must be perfect, each ball is sewn by hand.
Unlike baseballs, which need to meet exact specifications, baseball gloves are personal. Some players like Rawlings gloves, some like Wilson gloves, some like Nike or Mizuno. But players who want a really custom fit rely on Shigeaki Aso, aka the “Glove Guru.” Born in Tokyo, Wilson’s master glove maker has designed custom gloves for countless MLB stars – you might see one on the hand of the Red Sox’s second baseman.
Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred has said he wants to expand MLB to 32 teams (there are now 30). Some of the cities mentioned as possible homes for these teams are Montreal, Vancouver, and Mexico City. (Mexico City is located 7,382ft/2,250m above sea level – just think of the home-run balls that could be hit in that rarified air!)
According to a cutting from a 1749 newspaper, the first recorded game of “base ball” was played in Surrey, England 269 years ago. It was different than modern baseball in many ways – it was likely more similar to rounders, a game with four bases that dates back to Tudor England. But it’s fair to say “America’s pastime” was born in the UK.
So, there's a whole world of reasons for you to care about the Series. And one of the likely contenders (the Boston Red Sox) play in arguably the most venerable and historic stadium in the U.S. – Fenway Park. That’s reason enough to go, right there.
And if you do go…
If you buy World Series tickets and then have to cancel your trip due to an unforeseen event such as severe weather or an ill family member, there is coverage for the pre-paid, non-refundable cost of your tickets. (This is assuming you’ve purchased World Nomads travel insurance to cover your trip, you’re a US resident, the trip would take you at least 100 miles from home, and you aren’t able to resell or otherwise get reimbursed for your tickets.)
So bring on the championship! Let’s go…Brewers?
Hey, I’m a San Francisco Giants fan. I don’t know who I’ll be rooting for in the Series, but I’ll definitely be watching. Sadly, my orange and black will have to wait for another year.
Listen to Episode 10 of The World Nomads Podcast. We explore America's growing artisan scene, California's cowboys and advice for aspiring travel writers.