Major League Baseball has made an extra effort in recent years to showcase the game in new places. The Yankees and Red Sox played the first-ever games in Europe last year. The sport also held regular season games in Omaha, Neb. and Williamsport, Pa. to spotlight the College World Series and Little League World Series, respectively.
So the question for SI's MLB staff was simple: Where should baseball go next?
If baseball is truly America’s Pastime, we need to play a game in the heart of democracy: at the Ellipse, the grassy oval between the White House and Washington Monument. Can’t be done? Hah! The Ellipse was the home field of the Washington Senators–in 1860. President Lincoln and his son Tad watched baseball games there. The Washington Nationals and Philadelphia Athletics played there in 1865. Government office teams played there during both World Wars. No need to set up stands. Just two teams playing in the shadow of the White House and Washington Monument.
Baseball: the quintessential American game. Make it happen.
I would like to see a series in the Dominican Republic every year. I can understand the thinking that the London series helped introduce the game to potential new fans, but I think there's also something to be said for rewarding the people who already know and love the game. The Twins and Tigers played a spring training game this year, which marked MLB's first trip to the island since two exhibition games between the Red Sox and the Astros in 2000. As far back as MLB tracks—1976—it has never staged a game that counted in the DR. I hope that changes soon, in part because of what it means to the Dominican players, who numbered 134 this year. It's great for the Dominican fans to see major league baseball. And it's great for the American fans to see the Dominican fans.
• Inside the Pinstripes: MLB Should Explore More Domestic Locations
I'm more interested in creative locations stateside than international ones. (The time difference involved in going overseas can be less than ideal, and, anyway, there's so much great international baseball already!) I've enjoyed the games in Williamsport and think that it could be cool to chase a similar vibe in historic minor-league stadiums. Some particularly fun choices could be McCormick Field in Asheville, N.C. (home of the Low-A Tourists, built into a gorgeous hillside, and one of the first places to feature night baseball under stadium lights back in the '30s) or Centennial Field in Burlington, Vt. (built in 1906, making it one of the oldest continuously used stadiums in the country).
As someone who never got to see the Polo Grounds, I'd love to see MLB construct a makeshift facility (like they were doing in Iowa this year for the Field of Dreams game) that mirrors the longtime home of the New York Giants. The dimensions were wacky: 279 feet down the left field line, 257 feet to right and a 483-foot gulf between home and the center field wall. The Polo Grounds was home to countless All-Stars and Hall of Famers, perhaps none more talented than Willie Mays. He turns 90 next May.
Let's find an open field in New York (almost certainly outside the city) and get the Giants and Mets out there for a series in the New Polo Grounds, honoring Mays and the rich history of baseball in New York.
Let's get a game on the Giza Plateau in Egypt, with the ancient pyramids overlooking the field. It's happened before. In 1889, the Chicago White Sox (then the White Stockings) played the All-Americas (players from multiple National League teams) as the marquee stop on their world baseball tour. Then, in 1914, the White Sox went back to Egypt for a game against the New York Giants in Cairo, but no MLB teams have played there since. I want to see an interleague game between the White Sox and Giants there scheduled for 2022.
Perhaps the COVID-19 crisis makes this a bit infeasible in the near future, but I’d like to see MLB expand its international footprint in upcoming seasons. The London Series was a hit last year, and games in Mexico have traditionally drawn strong crowds. Let’s hope Rob Manfred pushes for a host of international games in the 2020s, especially in Latin America. Seeing the game’s top players shine in their home countries would be a true regular-season delight.