On October 12, Major League Baseball put a call out to fans around the world, asking to tell it why they loved baseball “in any language.” For many fans across the globe, the World Series is a misnomer, a typically American-centric view of the planet, since all the teams playing for the title are in North America, and only in two of the countries. What #PostcardsFromHomePlate aims to do is illustrate the scale of the game beyond U.S. borders.
Within 72 hours of that tweet, baseball fans from 51 different markets used nearly the same number of languages (30) to tweet about #PostcardsFromHomePlate as they used to tweet about MLB during the entire 2020 World Series (31). According to Twitter, nearly 38% of the #PostcardsFromHomePlate conversation came from languages other than English—a 126% boost over the international conversation during the 2021 regular season. Between 2019 and 2020, Twitter also saw a 49% increase in the volume of non-English tweets about the World Series, and a 48% increase in the number of languages used.
During Game Two and Game Three of the World Series this week, MLB will reply to selected fans with photos of their tweets as actual postcards from the World Series. Those postcards will then be mailed to fans, featuring a unique QR code that will link to exclusive World Series content.
Estatistikak eta zenbakiak oso garrantzitsuak dira kirol honetan, horregatik gustatzen zait beisbola
— Itziar Henley (@ItziarHenley) October 21, 2021
Will Exline, Twitter’s senior sports partnerships manager, says the campaign is designed to tap into the sharp increases Twitter has been seeing over the years in non-English tweets during the World Series. “The biggest jumps we saw were in Japanese, Portuguese, French, and Spanish, and we really wanted to lean into that,” says Exline. “So the challenge we gave ourselves was, How do we get the world back into the World Series? That was the starting point.”
There were also lessons from last year’s COVID-impacted season, when fans weren’t allowed to attend games in person, so the league had to find ways to engage everyone stuck at home. During the 2020 World Series, tweets from fans cheering on the Tampa Bay Rays and Los Angeles Dodgers were picked by the league and laser-engraved on baseballs to be used during the team workouts and batting practice before Game One. MLB tweeted out photos of each tweet-engraved ball, which were then mailed out to the fans whose tweets were picked.
Me encanta el beisbol porque de pequeño conocí a Mariano Duncan y a JR González, peloteros dominicanos que admiró llegaron hacer grandes en su época, luego Gibson, pedro guerrero sammy, pedro martinez, el mío personal es Manny Ramírez.
— Ryan Gonzalez C.???????????????????????????????????? (@RyanGonzalezC) October 24, 2021
Exline says the goal is to get fans excited and feel personally connected to the action, and one of the best, most fun ways to do that is by bringing together the physical and digital worlds—in this case, turning a typically ephemeral tweet into a lifelong souvenir, whether in Spanish, Finnish, Korean, French or Japanese.
— MLB (@MLB) October 28, 2021
“As a platform, Twitter is where people go to see what’s happening in the world, and live sports just plays into that so well, and this is just a physical manifestation of the fandom people are expressing on the platform,” says Exline. “With ‘Postcards From Home Plate,’ it doesn’t matter if you live in Houston or Tokyo. The fandom you’re exhibiting, cheering on your team, can really have an effect, and we wanted to illustrate that.”