'Play ball!' Space station astronauts celebrate World Series with an orbital pitch

Astronauts threw a pitch in space to celebrate the start of this year's World Series.

Four crewmembers of the current Expedition 68 mission of the International Space Station stepped up to the plate in space to celebrate Game 1 of the World Series, which saw the Philadelphia Phillies narrowly win over the Houston Astros 6 to 5 on Friday (Oct. 29). But there is time for a comeback, as the Astros took Game 2 and the teams play Game 3 of the best-of-seven series tonight (Oct. 31).

"We're super excited to watch the World Series come back to Space City," Expedition 68 NASA astronaut Josh Cassada says in the Oct. 29 video posted by Major League Baseball's Twitter (opens in new tab) account, which briefly highlights the space station's role in preparing for future moon and Mars missions.

Numerous crews have engaged in ball sports in orbit, ranging from soccer to golf. Astronauts even pulled a Halloween trick in 2018, pretending they were billiard balls in orbit to engage students in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).

Related: World Cup in space: Astronauts play cosmic soccer on space station 

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The four spaceflyers — NASA astronauts Josh Cassada, Nicole Mann and Frank Rubio and Japan's Koichi Wakata — talked science in the video before stepping aside for a ceremonial pitch. (The three other Expedition 68 crewmates — cosmonauts Anna Kikina, Dmitry Petelin and Sergey Prokopyev — do not appear in the video.)

"We wanted to take a moment to wish both teams good luck in the games ahead," Mann says in the video, moments before Rubio tosses a baseball softly to Wakata.

Wakata's catch, just in front of the camera, is flawless — likely no surprise given that the Japanese astronaut had 347 days of space experience across five missions even before joining SpaceX's Crew-5 mission, his latest excursion.

The Phillies will have home field advantage in Games 3, 4 and 5 of the 118th edition of the World Series. If necessary, the series will go back to Houston (which had a better regular-season record than Philadelphia) for Games 6 and 7.

Elizabeth Howell is the co-author of "Why Am I Taller (opens in new tab)?" (ECW Press, 2022; with Canadian astronaut Dave Williams), a book about space medicine. Follow her on Twitter @howellspace (opens in new tab)Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) or Facebook (opens in new tab).

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell, Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022. She was contributing writer for Space.com (opens in new tab) for 10 years before that, since 2012. Elizabeth's reporting includes an exclusive with Office of the Vice-President of the United States, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and (soon) a Bachelor of History from Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science since 2015. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: https://qoto.org/@howellspace