There were more reasons to celebrate on Thursday than just the return of games that matter.
After an Opening Day that saw flair, drama and everything in between, Major League Baseball announced on Friday that it has accumulated its most wide-ranging group of ballplayers. Of the 877 players on Opening Day rosters (including nonactives), 254 hailed from a total of 21 countries and territories outside the United States, which was the most in terms of total country count. The previous high for foreign countries and territories represented was 19, and the all-time high of players from outside the U.S. is 259; both were set last season.
On Thursday, every continent was represented other than Antarctica. In total, 29 percent of all players were born outside the U.S.
Blue Jays shortstop Mpho' Ngoepe held the claim as the lone South African, and according to Baseball America, it's believed he's the first African-born player to make the Majors. And Pittsburgh's Dovydas Neverauskas was the first player from Lithuania to make an Opening Day roster.
Australia's players included relief pitchers Peter Moylan of the Braves, Warwick Saupold of the Tigers and Liam Hendriks of the A's. Europe also had a strong showing, and with star talent, including Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius (Netherlands).
The Dominican Republic had 84 players represented, which again led all countries other than the U.S., and Venezuela had 74. Puerto Rico had 19.
With 14 players -- and spanning five countries and territories outside the U.S. -- the Rangers had the most diverse Opening Day roster, followed by the White Sox (13), Marlins (12), Twins (11), Phillies (11) and Blue Jays (11). The Dodgers had players from eight countries and territories outside the U.S., marking the most, followed by the Braves, Marlins and Mariners, who each had seven.