MLB 2025 Opening Series heading to Japan


Japan to host MLB 2025 opening match Image: Tokyo Dome, Lukas, CC BY 2.0

The opening series of the 2025 U.S. Major League Baseball season will be held in Japan, the commissioner of Japanese professional baseball has revealed.

NHK said Sakakibara Sadayuki told reporters that he held talks with MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred in March in South Korea. The Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres were matched there for this year’s opening series.

Sakakibara said the MLB has decided to hold next year’s opening series on March 19 and 20 in Japan as part of its effort to promote baseball globally. It is already extremely popular in Japan.

This year 11 Japanese players feature on the squads of seven clubs in MLB, including the Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston Red Sox, and Chicago Cubs.

The season officially got underway on March 28, but ahead of Opening Day, the Dodgers and San Diego Padres faced off in two games in Seoul, South Korea, on March 20 and 21. Dubbed the Seoul Series, it was the first time the MLB has held regular-season games in the country.

Sakakibara said which teams will play and the location of the games in the opening series in Japan in 2025 has yet to be decided.

Sources close to the matter say the Dodgers are a candidate. Japanese superstar Ohtani Shohei and compatriot pitcher Yamamoto Yoshinobu are members.

U.S. media have reported that the Dodgers and the Chicago Cubs have been privately informed they have been selected to open the 2025 season at Tokyo Dome.

The Tokyo Dome is a stadium in Bunkyo, Tokyo, Japan. Construction on the stadium began on May 16th, 1985, and it opened on March 17th, 1988. It was built on the site of the Velodrome, adjacent to the predecessor ballpark Korakuen Stadium.

It has a maximum total capacity of 57,000 depending on the configuration, with an all-seating configuration of 42,000. It is the home field of the Yomiuri Giants baseball team, and has also hosted music concerts, basketball, American football, and association football games, as well as puroresu (pro-wrestling) matches, mixed martial arts events, kickboxing events, and monster truck races.

NHK further stated that Sakakibara said he and Manfred did not mention the names of any specific teams during their talks. But he said he asked Manfred to select teams that would meet the expectation of Japanese fans. He quoted the MLB commissioner as saying he would choose teams that can provide high-quality baseball.

A series in Tokyo would be the MLB’s first official games in Japan since March 2019, when the Seattle Mariners played the Oakland Athletics. It was the last game for Japanese baseball legend Suzuki Ichiro as a pro player.

International MLB games began in 1996, when the Mets and Padres travelled to Mexico to play a three-game series in Monterrey, Mexico, and since have expanded to other countries including Japan, Australia and the UK.

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