News of the season-opening series in Japan first arose during spring training.
The Mariners will open the 2019 season with a road trip … in another country.
After an early report from the San Francisco Chronicle appeared during spring training, Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association announced that next season’s first games will be played in Japan between the Mariners and A’s.
The two-game series will be considered home games for Oakland.
It’s the fifth time that MLB will open it’s season in Tokyo. The last time came in 2012 when both the Mariners and A’s played two games, each winning one.
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“The Mariners have been closely tied to Japan since Nintendo purchased a majority of the team in 1992 and have had Japanese players on our roster every season since 1996,” said Mariners Chairman and Managing Partner John Stanton in a statement. “It is an honor for our team to return for the Opening Series in 2019, and we look forward to this opportunity.”
MLB also announced will renew its “All-Star Tour” with Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB), playing six games across Japan from November 8-15.
“Major League Baseball is thrilled to return to Japan for the 2018 All-Star Tour this fall and for the 2019 Japan Opening Series next March,” said Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred. in a statement “The renewal of the All-Star Tour gives MLB and Nippon Professional Baseball an outstanding opportunity to continue a longstanding tradition that showcases the best of our game for our many fans across Japan, as well as build up excitement for the 2019 Opening Series between the Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics. The city of Tokyo offers a terrific backdrop for the Opening Series, and we look forward to once again bringing Major League games to the Japanese fans as we celebrate our shared love of Baseball.”
From the press release:
The All-Star Tour games in November will mark the 37th time overall that Major Leaguers have toured Japan for exhibition games, dating back to 1908. The All-Star Tour will be hosted in Tokyo (Tokyo Dome), Hiroshima (Mazda Zoom Zoom Stadium) and Nagoya (Nagoya Dome). The events will begin with an exhibition game against the Yomiuri Giants in Tokyo on November 8th, followed by three games in Tokyo from November 9th-11th, one game in Hiroshima on November 13th and two games in Nagoya on November 14th-15th.
“I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Major League Baseball, the Major League Baseball Players Association, and all those making a great effort in preparation for the Japan-U.S. All-Star Series,” said Nippon Professional Baseball Commissioner Atsushi Saito. “It has been four years since Samurai Japan and MLB last met. With our goal of winning a gold medal in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, this gives our players experience in high-level games against MLB players. Many Japanese players have made their way to the U.S., and that has certainly brought MLB close to baseball fans throughout Japan. I am also looking forward to the 2019 MLB Opening Series in Japan, which enables us to feel a very different excitement from that of NPB. This long-awaited Japan-U.S. All-Star Series will be a great opportunity to further deepen our bilateral relationship.”
As part of the 2019 Japan Opening Series, both MLB Clubs will also compete against Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) teams in day/night doubleheaders scheduled for March 17th-18th. Below is a tentative schedule of events for both the 2018 Japan All-Star Tour and for the 2019 Japan Opening Series:
2018 Japan All-Star Tour
Date Game Venue (City)
Thursday, November MLB Team vs Yomiuri Giants Tokyo Dome (Tokyo)
Friday, November 9 Game #1 Tokyo Dome (Tokyo)
Saturday, November 10 Game #2 Tokyo Dome (Tokyo)
Sunday, November 11 Game #3 Tokyo Dome (Tokyo)
Monday, November 12 Travel Day
Tuesday, November 13 Game #4 Mazda Zoom Zoom Stadium (Hiroshima)
Wednesday, November 14 Game #5 Nagoya Dome (Nagoya)
Thursday, November 15 Game #6 Nagoya Dome (Nagoya)
2019 Japan Opening Series
Date Game Venue
Sunday, March 17 MLB Team vs NPB Team* Tokyo Dome
Sunday, March 17 MLB Team vs. NPB Team* Tokyo Dome
Monday, March 18 MLB Team vs NPB Team* Tokyo Dome
Monday, March 18 MLB Team vs. NPB Team* Tokyo Dome
Wednesday, March 20 Seattle Mariners vs. Oakland A’s** Tokyo Dome
Thursday, March 21 Seattle Mariners vs. Oakland A’s** Tokyo Dome
- *Teams, Home/Road designation, and start times for NPB games will be determined at a later date
- **The Athletics will be the home team for both MLB Opening Series games. Start times will be determined at a later date.