For about a year since Meghan Markle married Prince Harry, Boston media have speculated that she and Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts are distant cousins. Just before Saturday’s London Series game versus the New York Yankees, Betts and Markle hugged it out in the locker room as a sort of acknowledgement of the possibility.
Betts was clear about how he feels about the rumor.
“Yes, I’m related to Meghan Markle,” he said. “I did get to meet her; she gave me a hug, and invited me over for dinner.”
The Dutchess and Harry are in attendance at Olympic Stadium for the first-ever MLB game in London.
The connection between Betts and Markle originated from an amateur genealogist named Jim McNiff from Burlington (Mass.). He is a former hospital manager and college professor who was used by the Boston Globe for a story about Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick’s family trees.
Peter Abraham of The Globe first broke the story a year ago. McNiff had to go back 150 years and decipher through slave-owning families to find the connection, as both Markle and Betts descend from slaves.
According to the 1870 Federal Census, the population of a township in Madison County, Ala., included 22 adults and children with the surname Betts. In house No. 105, there was 17-year-old Joseph Betts. In house No. 107, 14-year-old Jacob Betts lived with his family.
Joseph Betts is the great-great grandfather of Mookie Betts and Jacob Betts the great-great-great grandfather of Markle.
Whether Joseph and Jacob were related cannot be determined conclusively. But those residents of Madison were descendants of slaves owned by Elisha Betts, a tobacco plantation owner from Lunenburg County, Va.
Elisha Betts, per a will dated 1783, bequeathed seven slaves to his children.
McNiff also pointed out that Markle and Betts are related by a marriage in the 1920s between Katie Betts and Richard Betts in Ohio. Katie Betts is Markle’s great-great aunt, and Richard Betts is Mookie’s great-great uncle.
So at the very least, even if Markle and Betts aren’t related by blood, they are connected by this marriage.
This London Series has been on the docket for a year, so the anticipation of Betts meeting Markle has grown for several months.
“That would be cool, to meet her,” Betts said to Abraham. “I wonder if she’s a baseball fan?”
Markle is not the only one with a baseball connection. Prince Harry also threw out the first pitch at a New York Mets game back in 2010. He threw just right of catcher Rod Barajas but got the ball over the plate.
He also did batting practice in Harlem in 2013, according to PEOPLE.
Prince Harry, 34, tried his hand at batting during another visit to New York in 2013. During a visit to the Harlem RBI, he played baseball with local children using a T-ball stand — and even took some pitches from former Yankees player Mark Teixeira.
After he and Markle watch today from Olympic Stadium, the Red Sox and Yankees will play again on Sunday at 10:10 a.m EST. New York has jumped all over Boston in the first inning, leading 6-0.