Exclusive: Spencer Owen relishing the chance to hit a home run for Chicago Cubs

Major League Baseball is introducing a new baseball format with the launch of MLB Home Run Derby X - a global tour kicking off in London on July 9, 2022, at Crystal Palace Park.

Inspired by the success and simplicity of the Home Run Derby the day before the MLB All-Star Game, Home Run Derby X has been developed with the goal of attracting a new audience to baseball.

The teams competing in Home Run Derby X represent four of Major League Baseball's most historic clubs: Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees.

The teams will consist of MLB Legends, Superstars, Rookies and Wild Cards. Legends are MLB icons who bring big-hitting talent to the roster.

One of the Wild Cards is the founder of Hashtag United and YouTube superstar Spencer Owen.

He will be playing for the Cubs alongside MLB legend Geo Soto and female superstar softball player Alex Hugo.

Owen admits while he didn't grow up with a baseball hero, Puerto Rico's Soto has become the player he's looked up to since training for the opening event at Crystal Palace Park next month.

"I would say my baseball hero right now is either a guy called Geo Soto - who is a legendary Cubs player who's playing for my team," Owen exclusively told Planet Sport.

"First and foremost, he's on my team but in the practice event, he was hitting bombs, he was the best guy by far. It's just a real honour to have sat and watched a game with him at Wrigley Field.

"Then he'd WhatsApp me in the middle of the night giving me advice on baseball swings. And I'm like, pinching myself, you know. You walk down the street in Chicago with this guy and you just stop in traffic.

"So him and then a guy called Will Linton, who is my coach in England and who's maybe not as well known as Geo. He's a UK baseball player and coach, and he's basically the reason I'm anywhere near good enough to hit a ball at the moment. It's thanks to him," Owen added.

The event will also take place in Mexico and South Korea - the respective nations of other players competing - Stefania Aradillas and Yoongy Kwak.

Owen cannot hide his excitement at the prospect of scoring a home run, and while it's not like scoring a goal in football, he describes it as an incredible feeling.

Speaking about how the opportunity came up, Owen added: "I've tested myself on a number of different sports over the years.

"I mean, football is obviously my main thing, but I did a 26-mile rowing river marathon once. I've done triathlons, I've done all kinds of different things.

"I played a bit of cricket at school, but I've never really held a baseball bat that much before this year. The opportunity came up and it was like you know what, I wouldn't mind testing myself.

"I'm the oldest of the four Wild Cards. I'm 33 now, nearly 34 and it's kind of like, 'let's see if there's a bit of life and the old dog let's see what I can do,' you know?

"I've got a little boy now as well, and I like the idea of telling him I was a pro baseball player when he's older. He won't know, I've got all the pictures, I've got all the gear...

"If I can go and hit some home runs in front of big crowds and get all that content captured on film and then show him, I'll be pretty proud of that. 

"The event is so well run I have to say. I've done a lot of cool things over the years, things like the Wembley Cup, and what we've done in football, but this has been run amazingly, with a mixture of talent involved.

"I mean, how many times do you get a chance - not just to take part in something like this - but if you check my Instagram bio right now, I've got 'Cubs player' in there because I am actually a Chicago Cubs player. I don't have to mention it.

"It's not in the actual game of baseball, but it is still an event. Cubs versus the Red Sox versus the Yankees versus the Dodgers. And I will be able to say I played for the Chicago Cubs. What an honour that is," Owen added.

To find out more, check out HRDX. You can follow the full Home Run Derby X Tour at @mlb and @MLBEurope. MLB will be documenting the progress of the teams, the Wild Card's training journey, and all the live and behind-the-scenes action from each event.

Those who attend will watch two prelim games and a play-off across the day, take a swing in the batting cages and enjoy live music from AJ Tracey. Tickets are available to buy here.

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