Will Britain Ever Embrace Baseball?

David WyattAnalyst IJuly 5, 2009

LONDON - AUGUST 4:  Reigning World Superbike Champion James Toseland of Great Britain and Ducati Xerox poses during a photocall on the London Eye on August 4, 2005 in London, England. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images).

As a British fan of baseball I'm always studied with a strange expression, you like baseball and you are British? This must be some mistake, believe it or not, there are quite a lot of us Brit loving baseball nuts around the United Kingdom. 

So it got me thinking, will Britain ever really take to baseball, and if not why not? I really was stumped for answers.

When asking several friends of mine why they don't like baseball, I'm presented with very blank expressions of puzzlement. Do we know why we don't like baseball as a nation, or are we just not giving it a chance? I tend to believe that it is the latter of the two.

One thing that many people say when asked this question is, it's too long. Really we the British who sit through five days of test cricket, complain about a game that lasts anywhere between 1 hour 45 minutes and 3 hours 30 minutes.

That surely can't be the reason, the average game last season lasted twp hours and 50 minutes. A football game lasts a hour and a half, and that doesn't count half time, so lets say that a football match will last two hours. Is 50 minutes really all that much for a society that happily watches test cricket, and even more related one day internationals, which last far longer.

So moving on from that, is it really a case of it being too American?

I find that hard to believe, the game of baseball after all has roots in British society, it is called America's past time, and rightfully so, but earliest references of the game that most resembles baseball today are found in British periodicals from as early as the mid 18th century.

In fact the game that resembles rounders which is a early form of baseball is believed to have been brought to the United States by English immigrants.

1791 is the earliest reference to baseball in the United States, a full 47 years after the first reference to it in the British publication, 'A little pretty pocket book' by John Newberry. Today it is Americas past time, but why does that mean that we can not play it?

It is often said that baseball was pushed aside in favor of cricket, the popularity of the game was becoming a threat to the established all so very british game of 'cricket'. As a fan of cricket, I'm thankful for that, but now that we are a more open minded society, is there a chance that baseball, one day might take off in the UK?

Is there space for the game in Britain. We are a sports society after all, we go out in vast numbers to watch football.rugby and cricket. We even turn up in our drowns to sit indoors and watch snooker and darts, are there enough people to make baseball popular enough to turn a profit?

The Summer in Britain is rather void of sport, there is no football, very little rugby and county cricket hardly draws the crowds. So much so that earlier this summer i saw a game up in Durham and there were barely a hand- full of spectators to cheer on the boys. Is cricket losing it's magic amongst the hearts of the Brits?

Of course this summer we will see the ashes in all it's glory. The historic battle between the English and the Aussies for what must be the most under whelming prize in professional sport, a tiny urn, more spectacular in it's meaning and history than it's stature as a stand alone trophy.

So with enthusiasm dwindling, and countless versions of cricket rearing it's ugly head. I consider myself a purist and will watch test cricket but little else. Is this the time to try and establish the 'other' beautiful game?

It won't work, and many people who read this will agree that it won't work. However I'm struggling to realise why it couldn't or shouldn't.

Exposure to the game has been cut, channel five due to the economic realities have cut there coverage of major league baseball. Although now with Setanta going under, ESPN America is available on the news channel package for just £1 extra on top of your basic sky subscription.

Is there a void in English summer sport waiting to be filled by a game, perhaps baseball?