It’s just after 9 p.m. in Leeds, U.K., the kids are off to bed and Peter Pratt can finally talk about the Miami Marlins.
“Greetings from England! Welcome to ‘Locked on Marlins.’ This is your daily Marlins podcast, I am your host, Peter Pratt.”
By day, Pratt is an account manager at a British software company. At night, he hosts a daily podcast, “Locked on Marlins.”
His guest list has included Marlins players, broadcasters, and journalists, and become a fixture in Marlins fandom, despite being based 4,300 miles away.
For the third consecutive year, Pratt reached the semifinals of Marlins Twitter Madness, a yearly popularity tournament that pits beat writers, media figures, and fan accounts against each other.
Miami Herald contributor Craig Mish, who defeated Pratt in the 2023 iteration of the tournament praised the podcast effusively.
“Peter’s energy and enthusiasm for Marlins baseball goes beyond just simply doing a podcast. He may be thousands of miles away but his passion for all things Marlins makes the fan base feel like he is somewhere close to Miami,” Mish said. “He is a very entertaining and enjoyable listen.”
Though now a daily consumer of baseball, growing up in England, Pratt never had the same access to the sport afforded to his American counterparts. Rather than growing up playing the game, his first baseball experience was on the big screen.
“It was probably a movie that brought baseball to me for the first time, and it was probably “A League of Their Own” and it was awesome,” said Pratt.
But viewing real baseball games was a challenge in the UK.
“Other than that (film), I saw a Home Run Derby,” he chuckles as his tongue presses out the long e sound in “derby” to emphasize his American pronunciation, “I don’t even know what year that could’ve been, but I remember Mark McGwire was hitting home runs”
Pratt did take an early liking to the UK’s favorite bat and ball sport – Cricket. He picked up the sport before age 10 and tells a story strikingly similar to the American ideal of “having a catch” with a relative.
“My grandad and I, we’d be out there all the time, he’d bowl them down to me and bless him, he was in his 70s, I’d mash them. He’d have to run after the ball,” he fondly remembered, “I was probably 8 years old at that point.”
Pratt played cricket all through his younger years until well after university and the similarities of the two games is not lost on him.
“There’s a real connection between cricket and baseball, a little bit in the playing element, but really the watching element, the rhythm of it.”
It wasn’t until 2015, visiting his brother in St. Louis, that Pratt discovered baseball. His brother took him to a Cardinals game and the atmosphere wowed him.
“I thought, ‘How is this stadium packed on a Thursday at 1 p.m.?’ I absolutely loved the experience. I didn’t really know the rules or what was happening on the field… I couldn’t tell you what the score was or anything but I came away absolutely loving it.”
They were so enthused that the next day they drove 3 ½ hours to Kansas City to watch a Royals game.
Upon returning to the UK it was clear the baseball bug had bit, even if he didn’t understand the game fully. But finding baseball in the UK still proved elusive.
“I thought, where can I go to watch a baseball game to figure out what the hell is going on? That’s half the battle in the UK, trying to find a way to watch this sport,” said Pratt, “When you don’t know what you don’t know and there’s no one you can ask because no one else knows, you have to navigate it all yourself.”
The next year, on a trip to Miami, Pratt discovered the team he’d fall in love with.
“I don’t know why but I just had this feeling with the Marlins,” said Pratt. ” I wanted to be all in.”
Unbeknownst to Pratt, the game he attended on May 4, 2016, was dripping with mid-2010s Marlins lore. The late Jose Fernandez, in the middle of his second and final all-star season, picked up the win, striking out seven in five innings of work. The eight hits the Marlins collected came from JT Realmuto, Christian Yellich, Marcell Ozuna and Giancarlo Stanton. The Marlins beat the Diamondbacks 4-3.
Stanton delivered the biggest hit of the night, crushing a two-run homer 427 feet into right-center field in the bottom of the third inning. Pratt decided to show his commitment to the team by spending $100 on a jersey.
“I was in the shop to buy a Stanton jersey and as I’m in the queue, they’ve got the game on the screen and he smashes a home run,” said Pratt, “I missed it! I turned around and the place went crazy. I went back to the seats with my new jersey on like ‘See? Stanton, he’s my guy!’”
Ever since Pratt and the Marlins have been inseparable. Even though the time difference between Leeds and Miami can be difficult, Pratt has perfected his method of staying spoiler-free. During his workday morning, Pratt will watch the rest of the previous night’s game on delay, with his phone silenced.
“She goes crazy, my wife, I’ll have all notifications off and before noon I’m not checking my phone. I don’t want any spoilers.”
Pratt has learned the UK has its own cadre of supporters of every team, and because the sport is so niche, fans put aside their differences and are all regularly in communication in Whatsapp groups.
“There’s one guy over here in particular who’s a massive LA Angels fan and he’s messaging us at 3 a.m. like ‘here we go!’” says Pratt, “He kinda builds his life around it. His whole day is built around 3 a.m. Angels baseball.”
This burgeoning baseball scene gave Pratt his first taste of podcasting. He was a guest on “Bat Flips and Nerds”, a British baseball podcast, in June 2017 to discuss his beloved Fish. The experience inspired him to consider starting a podcast of his own.
“I just put it out on Twitter. “Is anyone a Marlins fan in the UK who wants to talk about the team?’ and a couple of guys reached out,” said Pratt,” I’d never met these guys before and we just hopped on a Zoom or whatever it was and got it rolling.”
The first episode of “Fish Across the Pond” debuted in March 2019. The weekly show ran for 114 episodes, ending in November 2021, when Peter was offered the chance to host the daily Locked on Marlins, taking over from its previous U.S.-based host Aram Leighton on Nov. 29, 2021.
In addition to his podcasting efforts, Pratt has also found a community of Marlins fans on Twitter, where physical distance means little when they can all talk about their favorite team.
“Twitter is so valuable for someone in the UK. I don’t have anyone here to talk to about baseball face-to-face. I can’t speak to any of my friends about it, Pratt said, “Twitter is like talking to your friends about the game. It’s great to connect with people”
Interest in baseball in the UK is growing, albeit slowly. MLB will play a London series in 2024 and 2026. Last year’s World Baseball Classic made its way into the mainstream in the UK thanks to an expectation-shattering performance from Team Great Britain. They defeated Columbia 7-5 which automatically qualified them for the 2026 iteration of the tournament.
The growth of baseball’s popularity in the UK could mean increases in revenue for the league as a whole, but more importantly for Pratt, it would mean a whole host of new Marlins fans for him to talk to.
And they’d listen.