Major League Baseball announced earlier today that the Seattle Mariners are scheduled to open the 2019 season in Tokyo, Japan, March 20-21 against the Oakland Athletics.
The two-game 2019 Japan Opening Series at the Tokyo Dome will be “road” games for the Mariners. The Mariners 81-game home schedule is not affected by the games in Japan.
“The Seattle Mariners are proud to represent Major League Baseball and open the 2019 regular season in Japan against the Oakland Athletics,” said Mariners President & Chief Executive Officer Kevin Mather. “Our organization has a long and special relationship with Japan, including playing the Opening Series in the Tokyo Dome in 2012. This will be another memorable experience for our players, our organization and Major League Baseball.”
“The Mariners have been closely tied to Japan since Nintendo saved baseball in the Northwest by purchasing a majority of the team in 1992 and we have had Japanese players on our roster every year since 1996,” added Mariners Chairman & Managing Partner John Stanton. “It is an honor for our team to return for the Opening Series in 2019, and we look forward to this opportunity.”
Milestones for Japanese-born Mariners players include: Ichiro Suzuki was an AL MVP (2001), Rookie of the Year (2001), 10-time All-Star, 10-time Rawlings Gold Glove Award Winner, 3-time Silver Slugger Award Winner. He collected 262 hits in 2004, breaking George Sisler’s 84-year-old record for most Major League hits in a season. Hisashi Iwakuma threw the fifth no-hitter in Mariners history on Aug. 12, 2015 vs. Baltimore. Kazuhiro Sasaki (2000) and Ichiro claimed back-to-back Rookie of the Year Awards. Mac Suzuki was the first native-born Japanese player in the American League when he debuted with the Mariners in 1996.
The Mariners will fly from Spring Training in Peoria, Arizona, to Tokyo, Japan. The Japan trip will begin with a pair of exhibition games vs. Nippon Professional Baseball teams on Sunday, March 17 and Monday, March 18. Seattle will begin the 2019 regular season on Wednesday, March 20 and fly back to the U.S. following the game on Thursday, March 21.
The Mariners will play additional exhibition games following their return to the U.S. A full spring schedule will be released at a later date.
Notes of Interest
- This will be the fifth time that the Major League Baseball regular season has opened with a two-game series in Japan, and the first since the Mariners and A’s opened in Tokyo in 2012.
- The Mariners were scheduled to open the 2003 season in Japan against Oakland, but 12 hours before the flight was set to leave from Phoenix to Tokyo, the trip was cancelled because the Iraq war had broken out the previous day. Bob Melvin, Oakland’s current manager, was the Mariners manager in 2003.
- Television and radio coverage in the U.S. of the 2019 Japan Opening Series will be determined later.