385 feet to center?! 'It's going to be a blast': Yanks, Sox dish on London Series

ByJoon Lee and Coley Harvey ESPN logo
Friday, June 28, 2019

The Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees are crossing the pond for MLB's first London Seriesthis weekend (10 a.m. ET Sunday on ESPN).

Ahead of their games Saturday and Sunday at London Stadium, we asked players from both squads about the trip, from sightseeing to future MLB games abroad to Harry Potter.

Have you ever been to London? What are you most looking forward to there?

Michael Chavis, Red Sox second baseman:No. Never been before. I'm looking forward to it being the first game over there and being a part of the historic part of it. My sister is going as well, and she's big on history, especially British history, like the kings and all of the stuff like that. I'm excited to just share that experience with her, let her see all the stuff she's wanted to experience. She's wanted to go to London for pretty much her whole life.

Even to this day, she still obsesses over that stuff -- TV, movies, all of that stuff. It'll be cool to experience that along with baseball. Just the way I work in general, I'm not very good at planning things, and she's much better at planning than I am. I'll let her plan everything we're going to do.

James Paxton, Yankees starting pitcher: I've never been there before. Have never been over to Europe, so looking forward to checking that out. Going to go around and check out some museums and stuff when we get time. Just looking forward to the games, you know? It's going to be fun in that stadium and just a different experience altogether.

Marcus Walden, Red Sox relief pitcher: No. The biggest thing that I would never really do, but I'm going to do, is The Eye, the big ol' carousel thing. That's something I rarely do. I don't like heights. I don't like doing it, but my wife said I have to go. That's the one thing I would never do but I'm gonna do. I don't know a whole lot about London. Walking around is going to be cool. My cousin is married to a professor at Oxford. She gave me a list of things that I need to go see. It'll be cool to have her come into the game and have them show us around.

Other than teammates, is anyone making the trip with you?

Jackie Bradley Jr., Red Sox outfielder:Including me? Nine people. Parents, brother, sister, wife, kids and in-laws.

Brett Gardner, Yankees outfielder:My kids are going to be there, so they want to see a castle. So we're going to find a castle to see, which shouldn't be too difficult. We'll make a good time of it. So it should be a good trip.

Xander Bogaerts, Red Sox shortstop: My whole family. All of my family except my dad. ... Maybe six people.

Walden:My wife and my two cousins out there.

Chavis: My mom and my sister. And my girlfriend is going as well.

David Price, Red Sox starting pitcher: My mom and my dad.

What do you think of playing at London Stadium?

Walden: It'll be unique with the small field (it's only 385 feet to dead center at London Stadium). There's going to be some homers hit. Hopefully we're hitting more. It's going to be exciting. It's going to be smaller than Yankee Stadium. Better get the ball on the ground.

Price:[It's] smaller than my high school field.

Gardner:Obviously, it's not a normal baseball stadium that we're all accustomed to. They have to build dugouts and all that. So I'm not worried about the dimensions or anything because we're both going to be playing on the same surface, so I think it'll be a lot of fun. I'm most looking forward to seeing how the fans react to us being over there. It's going to be a blast.

Chavis: That's gotta hold a bunch of people then. I don't even know what the biggest crowd I've played in front of [was]. Obviously, it's sometime this year. There's not 30,000 in High-A. That's probably going to be the biggest crowd I've played in front of. I mean, I'm excited for everything. The fact that it's in London is kinda badass.

What do you want British fans to see in person?

Bogaerts: A tie game, a one-run game would be nice. Not, like, a 3-0 win or a position player pitching. Even if it's 9-8, it can be 2-1, a tight game where there's runners on base where a hit would tie the game. Something like that would be nice.

Walden: They are going to see it: two of the best franchises in baseball going out there. Think about those 52 guys -- you're talking about 20 of the best in the game. I think they're going to see pretty much everything in a baseball series that you can see in those two games. I haven't seen too many Red Sox/Yankee games where you don't see everything within the game.

Zack Britton, Yankees relief pitcher:It's going to be tough to, I guess, replace soccer, right? The history of soccer is there. Rugby. Cricket. Stuff like that. But hopefully the games are exciting. That's how you draw fans in. You see something new, somebody that's never seen baseball, and if they see some action, and they see some excitement, some good games, that's the best way to draw some fans in, get them interested in baseball, maybe some of the young kids over there too.

Where else should MLB consider playing games?

Britton:I would honestly really love a regular-season game going to the Dominican. A place that obviously has strong ties to just the talent that they've pumped into MLB. That would be awesome going there or some of the South American countries. I know they went to Mexico, but I'm talking about how we've got guys from Panama, Nicaragua. That would be really cool. Hopefully, eventually, a spot like that that has active players in the big leagues. The turnout, I think, would be incredible.

Bogaerts: They already do Japan. Europe. The Dominican. I think the atmosphere there is ridiculous.

Chavis: Given the popularity of baseball in the Latin American countries, I think that would be a good idea. Even Australia -- there's a decent number of Australian guys in the major and minor leagues. That would be a cool way to expand over there, but I think it would have to be a progression thing. It can't be one of those things where you jump into it and expect to take off, but if you inch into it, it could be successful.

Paxton:Oh, man. I don't know. London's going to be a great start, getting the game into Europe. Maybe if they go to maybe different European cities at some point. Who knows? I know it's kind of tough on travel. You can't really go too far. But you know, Japan and London are pretty close on either side. So who knows if they expand it further at some point.

Walden: Vancouver is a great spot. Going back up to Montreal is a great spot. I know they were talking about going to Mexico City. I still think if we had a team in Mexico City, it would be a tough travel no matter who you're playing for. Expansion team-wise: Vegas, Charlotte, Nashville. I think Nashville would be a good spot for the southern part of our country, but outside of the U.S., I really don't know. Going out there and playing one or two games is pretty cool, but actually having a team there is a different situation. It's going to be tough travel for those five days for us.

Bradley: Anywhere people are excited to watch it. Anywhere.

Are you a Harry Potter fan?

Chavis:Dude, so growing up, I think it was not this offseason but the offseason before, it was the first time I saw the Harry Potter movies. It was one of those things where, like, I was behind on it. As they were coming out, I was like, "I don't want to try and catch up," so I just never got around to doing it. In the offseason, it was like, "Dude, everybody says those movies are incredible. Maybe I'll watch them." I got together with my girlfriend, and we binged them, and they're awesome. And then we ended up going to Harry Potter World and Disney and all of that and did the Butterbeer. It's awesome. I'm all-in on it.

I made fun of my sister's friends 'cause they were really big on it. They had the cape or cloak. They spent, like, $100 on that, and I was like, "Y'all are ridiculous," but then I was kinda like, "I kinda get it. I might get one."

[Favorite character?] Dobby. I like Dobby a lot. He's cute, he's nice, he's a good dude. I feel like he gets overlooked a lot, but I like his personality. I thought it was cool.

[Do you have a Hogwarts House?] I'm not that deep yet. I might watch it again and make a final decision.

Hicks:I just want to go to Harry Potter World or the original Harry Potter [Studio]. I'm a big Harry Potter fan.

[What House would you consider yourself?] I don't know because it says a lot about a person and what you're like. I'm just going to say I'm a Gryffindor and leave it at that. They're the normal ones, the good-hearted people.

Paxton: Yeah, big fan when I was younger. Still really like the movies. Didn't get through all the books. I have them all on audiobooks, so definitely want to do that at some point. I think we're planning on checking out the Harry Potter exhibit. I've been to the one in Florida with Hogsmeade and stuff like that. So just looking forward to checking it out and walking around.

Bradley: I've watched all of the movies. I think it would be a disservice for me to call myself a true fan because I have seen some very, very passionate fans about Harry Potter. I'm at the beginning stages. I've seen people dress up and actually know the spell names and stuff like that. I don't know all of that. It would be a disservice to call myself a true, true fan.

[Favorite character?] Let's go with Dumbledore. He's considered one of the leaders and someone who's trying to help Harry along the way.

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