The World Series Champion Boston Red Sox will face the Oakland Athletics in Tokyo, Japan to open the 2008 Major League Baseball Championship Season, Major League Baseball (MLB) and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) announced today.
Japan Opening Series 2008 features the Red Sox beginning their World Series title defense in a twogame set versus the nine-time World Series Champion Athletics on March 25 and 26 at the Tokyo Dome. The games will mark the third time MLB has opened its season in Tokyo.
As part of Japan Opening Series 2008, both MLB Clubs will also compete against Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) teams in day/night doubleheaders scheduled for March 22 and 23. The following is a tentative schedule of events:
JAPAN OPENING SERIES 2008
|Saturday, March 22||Boston Red Sox vs. NPB Club (TBD)*||TBD*|
|Saturday, March 22||Oakland Athletics vs. NPB Club (TBD)*||TBD*|
|Sunday, March 23||Boston Red Sox vs. NPB Club (TBD)*||TBD*|
|Sunday, March 23||Oakland Athletics vs. NPB Club (TBD)*||TBD*|
|Tuesday, March 25||Boston Red Sox vs. Oakland Athletics**||Tokyo Dome|
|Wednesday, March 26||Boston Red Sox vs. Oakland Athletics**||Tokyo Dome|
"Opening our regular season in Japan for the third time is another example of Major League Baseball's commitment to continue the global growth of the game," said Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig. "We are excited that the Boston Red Sox and the Oakland Athletics have accepted our invitation to participate in this international event and look forward to working again with our long-time partner, The Yomiuri Shimbun, to bring these games to the great baseball fans of Japan."
"We are extremely pleased that the 2008 season will open in Japan. Japanese fans will have the opportunity to see two very talented teams, the Red Sox, this year's World Series winners, and the Oakland A's, a squad that has won its division four out of the last eight years," said Don Fehr, Executive Director, MLBPA. "It will also be an opportunity for Major League players to see firsthand just how enthusiastic, and knowledgeable, Japanese fans are. We are grateful to our hosts at The Yomiuri Shimbun for the sponsorship of these games, and for the bonds of friendship that these games strengthen."
Athletics Team President Michael Crowley said: "The Oakland A's are very excited and honored to be opening the 2008 season in Japan. Baseball is truly a game without borders and we are pleased to have the opportunity to be a part of the game's growth on the international level."
Red Sox President/CEO Larry Lucchino said: "On behalf of John Henry, Tom Werner, and the entire ownership and organization, we are honored to be invited to represent Major League Baseball, and open the 2008 MLB season in Japan, one of the greatest baseball nations in the world."
Yasuchika Negoro, Acting Commissioner, Nippon Professional Baseball said: "It is a pleasure for the Japanese fans to welcome the MLB Season Opener from the motherland of baseball. Ever since it was introduced from America some 130 years ago, baseball has familiarized and developed into the national sport of the Japanese people. To welcome Daisuke Matsuzaka, Hideki Okajima and the World Champion Boston Red Sox along with the Oakland Athletics to open the 2008 MLB season in Japan is truly exciting. It will be a joy to watch as this series further develops the Japan-U.S. friendship nurtured through baseball."
Takuo Takihana, President, The Yomiuri Shimbun said: "It is truly delightful to welcome the third MLB Season Opener to Japan. Baseball is furthering its international frontier as we set the stage for the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2009 World Baseball Classic. The Yomiuri Shimbun has worked with MLB and MLBPA for over 70 years and is committed to further develop baseball internationally by working together with NPB, Japan Professional Baseball Players Association and the 12 NPB teams."
Japan Opening Series 2008 will mark the first MLB season opener in Japan since the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays played in front of sell-out crowds at the Tokyo Dome in 2004. Over the past decade, eight MLB Clubs (Colorado Rockies, San Diego Padres, New York Mets, Chicago Cubs, Texas Rangers, Toronto Blue Jays, New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays) have experienced international openers. Overall, nearly 700,000 fans have attended 15 MLB Opening Series games in Monterrey, Mexico (Rockies vs. Padres - 1999), Tokyo, Japan (Mets vs. Cubs - 2000 and Yankees vs. Rays - 2004), and San Juan, Puerto Rico (Rangers vs. Blue Jays - 2001).
Upon conclusion of Japan Opening Series 2008, the Red Sox and Athletics will travel back to the United States to complete an abbreviated exhibition schedule before resuming their Championship Season schedules.
Organizers of Japan Opening Series 2008 include MLB, MLBPA, NPB and The Yomiuri Shimbun. Further details on all of the games and events surrounding Japan Opening Series 2008 will be announced at a press conference in Japan this December.