Good luck to the Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals as historic Fenway Park hosts Game 1 of the 2013 World Series tonight in Boston. Sports Diplomacy salutes the 111th edition of Major League Baseball’s Fall Classic, which this year features two of baseball’s most storied franchises. The Sox have played in 12 World Series and won seven, beginning with the first in 1903. The Cards have appeared in 19 Fall Classics and won 11.
As this year’s matchup features players from the United States, Japan, Aruba, the Dominican Republic, Canada, and Venezuela, tonight's game is truly a "World" Series. Recent World Series Most Valuable Player Award winners Hideki Matsui (Japan, 2009), Edgar Rentería (Colombia, 2010), and Pablo Sandoval (Venezuela, 2012) reflect the growing popularity of the sport overseas, as well as an uncanny penchant for international players to transition to the heroes of the fall.
The U.S. Department of State has used the global interest in our national pastime to promote cross-cultural understanding. In working closely with Major League Baseball, the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs has programmed around the World Baseball Classic, annual spring training, and the Little League World Series, bringing together a diverse collection of baseball fans from every region of the world to see firsthand how baseball reflects American values. The Department has also sent Cal Ripken, Barry Larkin, Ken Griffey, Brady Anderson, and B.J. Surhoff overseas to teach that the love of the game crosses cultural boundaries.
The State Department’s sports diplomacy team welcomes international interest in baseball. Many of us will be enthusiastically watching Game 1 tonight, but not everyone at Foggy Bottom is a neutral observer to this year's World Series. In addition to serving as America's top diplomat, Secretary Kerry is also an enthusiastic envoy of Red Sox nation. During Secretary Kerry's visit to Guatemala in June 2013, students welcomed him with a performance of “Sweet Caroline” -- a Massachusetts (and Boston Red Sox) favorite.
Because of the sport's clear impact around the globe, the Department will continue to use the baseball diamond to enrich our efforts in bringing people together and promoting American interests abroad.
About the Author: Cindy Gire serves in Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.