The San Francisco Chronicle first reported this back in February, but today Major League Baseball made it official: the Oakland A’s and the Seattle Mariners will begin the 2019 regular season in Japan, in the Tokyo Dome. The two-game set will be on March 20-21.
The series will mark the third time that the A’s will begin their season in Japan, first doing it in 2008 against the Red Sox and then again in 2012 against the Mariners. This is the fifth time that MLB has opened its season in Tokyo and the eighth season-opener to be played internationally. MLB has previously opened seasons in Monterrey, Mexico (1999); Tokyo (2000, 2004, 2008, 2012); San Juan, Puerto Rico (2001); and Sydney, Australia (2014).
This is just the latest of Major League Baseball’s moves to expand the the game internationally. In addition to those previous opening series the Indians and Twins played in Puerto Rico a couple of weeks ago and the Dodgers and Padres will play a series in Mexico City this May. The Yankees and Red Sox are reportedly near an agreement to hold a series in London next year as well. Obviously the World Baseball Classic represents the league’s effort to broaden the global scope of the once national pastime.
In addition to the opening series, MLB also announced that it will renew the All-Star Tour with Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) with six games across Japan from November 8th-15th. This will mark the 37th time overall that Major Leaguers have toured Japan for exhibition games, dating back to 1908
Get ready for early morning baseball, folks.