Baseball matches had been held sporadically in London since the turn of the twentieth century, with spectator figures fluctuating between a couple of hundred and a couple of thousand. This was until the baseball match held on the 4th July 1918 between the American Navy and Army at Stamford Bridge Football Ground.
On this occasion, London caught 'baseball fever'. For weeks prior to the game, the press had attempted to educate the masses on its rules. Similarly, as part of his own preparations, the King had called upon umpire, Arlie Latham, to teach him how to throw out the ceremonial first ball. And, come the big day, a crowd in excess of 50,000 filled the stadium, including a huge group of generals, a wide-range of politicians and even both the King and Queen.
In its immediate aftermath, journalists claimed that the game would go down in history as the beginning of a new Anglo-American partnership, with one newspaper going as far as to say: 'if Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton, it may be that it will be said hereafter, in the same symbolic sense, that the Great War was won on the baseball ground at Chelsea'. This partnership, arguably, still exists today, but popular memory of the match does not.
This summer (2018), The Anglo-American Baseball Project hopes to change this. They plan to commemorate the historic 4th July baseball match by replicating it on the same day, at the same sports ground, just as it was played one hundred years ago.