British baseball fan organizing Phillies tailgates in London: ‘It’s my turn to give back to the fans’

As Philadelphia Phillies manager Rob Thompson raised a toast to fans who gathered in a Philly-themed bar in London, the crowd may not have been as strong in numbers without the tireless work of Dave Shaw, the Englishman behind the social account @UKPhillies, who’s taken on the “part-time job” of connecting Phillies fans both in the UK and overseas.

“Every time I’ve been to Philly, the fans have gone out of their way to make me feel welcome,” Shaw said. “So since it was announced, I felt like it’s my turn to give back to the fans.”

That giving back brings us to a tailgate party in Hackney Wick ahead of Game 1 of the London Series, where Shaw arrives on a high after spending last night with the Phillies’ coaching staff.

“When Topper arrived, the bar owners said, ‘Do you want to close it off and make it VIP?’ And Thomson’s group went, ‘No, no, bring all the fans up.’”

“I don’t know what drink he had, but he said: ‘Give me the best whiskey you got.’ And then we just got him to say a toast. I didn’t think he would actually do it. But, when we did the toast, it was like, ‘Wow, this is actually happening.’ It was a great night.”

Before he joins his fellow UK Phillies fanatics, we get his thoughts on the season so far and what goes into being an online tour guide.

How much planning has gone into the tailgates, meetups and events?

A year. It feels like a part-time job. Months ago I was doing vlogs walking around here and the stadium, just to try to make it as easy as possible for fans coming over. There are so many people here for the first time who have no idea. And everyone’s been saying to me, “Your vlogs have been so helpful, they’ve helped us get around and made it even easier,” which for me is exactly what I wanted to do. For all the events over the past two nights so far, it’s been unbelievable to see so many Philly fans together with the same passion from all over the world. People from Australia, Hawaii, Canada, obviously Philly, all over the UK, it’s been special.”

Are there more American Phillies fans here than Brits?

I’d say more Americans, but the Brits are definitely catching up. Eagles have a massive fan base. And then with the Phillies doing so well, people are crossing over. What I do with my account is to make it fun for newcomers and I think that’s the best way to grow a sport. By making it fun, making it interactive. And that’s my aim. And I have people in my DMs going, “Hey, I’m new to the sport, but I like what you do. I want to get more into the Phillies.” That’s exactly what I’m trying to do. So I think we’ll get a lot of new fans here, people who’ve never been before, which is really important to me. And if the Phils can put on a good show and hopefully captivate them, they’ll come to find my account and then we can continue to grow the fan base.

Why do you think the London Series hasn’t sold out?

Baseball is nowhere near the NFL or even basketball over here, so to have all these people here, a lot of newcomers as well, who might become fans, it’s how you grow the game. MLB (is) getting played more in schools, it’s getting more media attention. I think it will get there.

1000077071 scaled

Phillies fans gathered for the tailgate party ahead of Game 1 of the London Series (Roshane Thomas / The Athletic)

What’s next after the excitement of this weekend?

I’ve got four, five days off work to recoup. Then I’ll be saving the rest of my holiday for October. I want to go to the World Series, so I’m hoping they make it this year and I can get back out there and hopefully see us go all the way this time.

What’s your favorite all-time memory as a Phillies fan?

The 2022 NLDS Rhys Hoskins bat spike. Being there for that, my first-ever Postseason game, against the Braves and the place going nuts. The stadium was shaking. It was special. Very, very special.

And the most painful?

Most of my 2015, 2016, and 2017 visits when they were just so bad. It was rough baseball, we were one of the worst teams in baseball at that point. You feel like you’ve earned your stripes during those games, but it was painful watching.

What’s your typical setup for watching a Phillies game from England? Any superstitions/rituals?

MLB TV. It’s such a bargain. You get to watch each game for less than £1 per game.

If you could put one former Phillies player on this team, who would it be and why?

Cole Hamels. I think we’re one pitcher away from absolutely locking it out. We have four fantastic starters, making it five with someone like Hamels would be lights out, I don’t think we’d look back.

Who would you like to see the Phillies acquire at the trade deadline? Why?

I’d like a power outfielder, which I think is the main aim anyway. They can’t keep turning to (Johan) Rojas and (Christian) Pache.

Who are the Phillies of the Premier League?

I often compare them to Newcastle. They’re both blue-collar, working-class cities and sport crazy. The Geordies in Newcastle are just as passionate as fans in Philly.

1000077066 scaled

Dave Shaw holds a UK-themed Phillies flag with fans at Saturday’s tailgate party (Roshane Thomas / The Athletic)

Which four Phillies from this year’s team would you invite to dinner if you could?

Brandon Marsh, Garrett Stubbs, Alec Bohm, and Bryson Stott. The Daycare kids.

Describe this Phillies season so far in a word or phrase…

Breaking records.

The Phillies have the best record in the National League. How many wins do you think they’ll finish the season with?

They’re going all the way. With getting so close in the last two years… this is it. They’re all in that window. It’s the win-now window. It’ll be seen as a failure if they don’t do it now. So I think it’s now or never for the Phils.

Care to make a way-too-early postseason prediction?

I think they get to 100 (wins) this year. I’m going to say 105. At this pace, it could be more, but we’ve got a tougher schedule coming up. Straight after this, we’ve got the Red Sox and the Orioles, where we’ll see where we really are. But the way this team is playing right now and how much they want it, I think we get 104-105 wins.

(Top photo of Dave Shaw: Roshane Thomas / The Athletic)

Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top