The Yankees and Marlins will play two exhibition games in Panama this March to honor recently retired Yankees closer Mariano Rivera and bring Major League Baseball to the country for the first time since 1947.
The "Legend Series" will be played March 15-16 at Panama City's Rod Carew Stadium, and the games will "honor the legacy" of Rivera, who retired last season as baseball's all-time saves leader.
"It is only fitting that one of our game's greatest ambassadors, Mariano Rivera, could help us bring Major League Baseball back to his beloved Panama," MLB senior vice president for international business operations Paul Archey said in a statement. "We look forward to partnering with the Marlins and the Yankees to deliver a groundbreaking sporting event to the fans of Panama, particularly the young fans who looked up to Mariano during his historic career."
Rivera will help serve as a promoter for the event in his native country, which will also include charitable events and a March 14 gala that will benefit the Mariano Rivera Foundation. Proceeds from the event will go to Children's Hospital in Panama City, the country's largest pediatric hospital.
"As long as I can remember, it has been my dream to bring my team, the Yankees, to play baseball in Panama," Rivera said in a statement. "I grew up playing in Puerto Caimito, where I developed my passion for baseball and began a journey that brought me to New York. It is my hope that this 'Legacy Series' will inspire other young players to pursue their dreams. I am very grateful to Major League Baseball, the Players Association, the Yankees and the Marlins in making this dream become a reality."
The games, which will be a rematch of the 2003 World Series, will be part of the teams' Spring Training schedule.
Panama will become the seventh country to host games between two Major League clubs (Mexico, Japan, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Venezuela, China). Under Hall of Fame manager Joe McCarthy, members of the Yankees trained in Panama in February 1946 and played against a Panamanian professional league All-Star team on February 21 of that year.
In the spring of 1947, the Yankees and the Brooklyn Dodgers played exhibition games in Panama during a trip that also featured stops in Cuba, Puerto Rico and Venezuela.
Joey Nowak is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joeynowak.