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Last night, Major League Baseball seemingly pulled off the impossible: they did something creative to market themselves, and they did it right.
The Chicago White Sox and the New York Yankees met in an Iowa cornfield to recreate the iconic scrimmage from Field of Dreams, the 1989 baseball classic starring Kevin Costner, James Earl Jones, and Ray Liotta.
The oft-maligned league, known more for steroids and BLM pandering of late, finally appeared to understand the gravitas of baseball itself as a cerebral, beautiful social experience. The movie was about baseball, yes, but it was really about family, and the power that a simple game has to heal deep-seated wounds and soothe regrets in life.
And luckily, that’s exactly how the game felt, like a family affair: the ballpark was impeccably manicured and intimate, the night sky was picturesque and serene, and children were prancing excitedly around the base paths as their parents soaked up the nostalgia from a beloved film come to life. For the first time in many years, a baseball game was must-see television, and many fans across the country agreed.
According to FOX Sports, just under six million viewers tuned in to watch the broadcast, making it the most-watched regular season game in 16 seasons on any network. It was also the most streamed game in FOX Sports history. Chicago and New York unsurprisingly put up the highest number of viewers, but the game also shined in other markets as well, including St. Louis, Hartford, and Kansas City (based on Nielsen Media Research figures).
All told, it was a remarkable night for Major League Baseball fans, media, and ownership alike, delivering a much-needed dose of innocence and goodwill into a sporting landscape that is often a hotbed of public anger and stupefying decisions. Hopefully the league can keep the momentum with more marketing decisions that make us appreciate the game of baseball for what we’ve always known it to be.