London Calling for PawSox Mike Shawaryn and Sam Travis

PawSox Mike Shawaryn Sam Travis
Pitcher Mike Shawaryn (left) and 1B/OF Sam Travis (right), Photo Credit: Louriann Mardo-Zayat

The PawSox take on Scranton Wilkes Barre Wednesday, July 3rd at 6:00pm ET on YurView, Cox channels 4 and 1004 in Rhode Island.

How do you respond when someone asks, “How was the trip?”

“To be part of something like that was an honor,” noted pitcher Mike Shawaryn.

“Just awesome,” said first baseman/outfielder Sam Travis.

“It was a refreshing reminder in terms of meeting kind, friendly, and outgoing people on the streets who made you feel welcome,” said PawSox President Dr. Charles Steinberg.

The question posed to all three individuals with Pawtucket Red Sox ties stemmed from their own personal experiences and takeaways from Major League Baseball’s first-ever trip to London. America’s pastime was the main attraction this past weekend in a trip across the pond as the Boston Red Sox and their chief rivals, the New York Yankees, descended upon the land of high tea and Big Ben.

The visit was relatively short – the two American League teams left for England last Wednesday and returned late Sunday night/early Monday morning. By Tuesday, Travis and Shawaryn were back at McCoy Stadium. For the most part, the exhaustion of dealing with a five-hour time difference had dissipated. The memories, however, don’t figure to leave their collective consciousness any time soon.

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Those who were part of the Red Sox travel party experienced a pretty tight schedule beginning the minute the team landed. The Red Sox flew to the London Series on one of the most luxurious planes in the world – a Crystal Skye Boeing 777, better known as a mini-hotel with wings. Shawaryn and Travis said that everyone on the flight was encouraged to sleep on the way across the Atlantic Ocean in an effort to be somewhat functional when the plane touched down at 7 a.m. London time on Thursday.

“Everyone had their own bed,” said Travis. “There was breakfast ready for us when we got there. We ate and then I went back to sleep for two hours. Then I got up and checked out the area. It’s a place I’ve never been. Massive place with lots of stuff going on.

“I was just walking around. I really didn’t know where I was going,” Travis added. “Riding on the bus, it was 50 miles from the airport to the hotel. It took us roughly three hours to get there. The hotel was four or five miles from the field. That took 45 minutes. It was traffic you have never seen before, promise you that.”

Added Shawaryn, “I walked through a couple of parks and got to see some monuments. We saw the London Eye and Big Ben as we landed.”

Returning back home, the recommendation called for the Sox to remain awake “as much as possible, just to help with the adjustment period,” said Shawaryn. “The plane was comfy and really spacious.”

The president of the PawSox, Steinberg was not on official business in London, hence he was able to adhere to a schedule that freed him up to soak in as much British culture as time permitted. A noted Beatles fan, Steinberg made sure to visit Abbey Road, the spot that served as the band’s inspiration for the title for one of their albums.

“I also went to Buckingham Palace and saw the changing of the guard,” said Steinberg.

PawSox Dr. Charles Steinberg
PawSox President Dr. Charles Steinberg (right), Photo Credit: Louriann Mardo Zayat

Sitting in the stands for two groundbreaking games that were played before enthusiastic sellout crowds at Olympic Stadium, Steinberg had a birds eye seat to Britain’s indoctrination to baseball.

Red Sox-Yankees, one of the crown jewels of American sports, put on a very entertaining show for a British audience that received the equivalent of a classroom lesson on baseball and its various nuances and intricacies.

“It was a blend of festive emotions with some Red Sox-Yankees spirit, plus a recognition that this was something new and different that no one had ever experienced before,” said Steinberg. “Through my rose-colored glasses, there was a noticeable sense of sportsmanship between the fans of the two teams, as if to say they were blessed to come see these historical games in London.”

PawSox Mike Shawaryn Sam Travis
1B/OF Sam Travis (left) and Pitcher Mike Shawaryn (right), Photo Credit: Louriann Mardo-Zayat

Baseball royalty met real-life royalty prior to Saturday’s game when Prince Harry and Meghan Markle greeted players and coaches from the Yankees and Red Sox. The royal couple came into the Red Sox clubhouse and posed for a picture with the team.

“We got to shake hands with them and give a gift to their baby (son Archie),” said Travis.

By first pitch for each game of the London Series, nearly all of the seats in a stadium that holds close to 60,000 were claimed. To Travis and Shawaryn, it was clear the fans were ready to be entertained as they watched from their seats inside the open-air circular stadium.

“Very loud. Very electric and something I’ll definitely remember,” said Travis. “To be part of the first two major-league teams to play over there is going to go down in the books.”

Stated Shawaryn, “You didn’t realize how many people where there until you looked up and saw how big and massive the stadium was. It was cool when you saw the fans doing the wave.”

“The fact they filled a very large venue for two straight days tells you how well it was received. I didn’t see an empty seat,” said Steinberg, who was particularly proud of the PawSox presence in England. He counted 23 Red Sox players with PawSox ties who participated in the London Series, which saw the Yankees win both games in high-scoring fashion. Travis appeared in each game while Shawaryn saw time on the mound.

“Maybe they were guys from long ago like Jackie Bradley Jr., Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts, but a lot of guys who went over hadplayed in Pawtucket just this year, from Travis, to Shawaryn, to Sandy Leon,” said Steinberg. “This was history being made and look at all the PawSox players who were a part of it.”

The PawSox take on Scranton Wilkes Barre Wednesday, July 3rd at 6:00pm ET on YurView, Cox channels 4 and 1004 in Rhode Island.

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