A history of MLB Opening Days played abroad

March 21st, 2024

The 2024 Seoul Series was yet another sign of Major League Baseball’s growing influence internationally.

When the Dodgers and Padres opened the regular season inside the Gocheok Sky Dome, South Korea became just the fifth country or territory outside of the continental United States or Canada to host a season-opening MLB game. (and just the sixth to host any regular-season game.) It joined Japan, Australia, Mexico and Puerto Rico on the former list.

It was another touchstone in MLB's efforts to expand beyond its usual borders, something that dates back to 1996, when the Mets and Padres traveled to Monterrey, Mexico, to play a three-game series.

Here's a look at all the Opening Day MLB games and series held outside the continental U.S. and Canada.

2024: Dodgers vs. Padres in Seoul, South Korea
March 20: LAD 5, SD 2 | March 21: SD 15, LAD 11

The first Opening Day series in Korea was a momentous occasion for players on both sides. It marked Shohei Ohtani's debut with the Dodgers after he joined them on a 10-year, $700 million contract in the offseason. The two-game set also represented a homecoming for Padres Gold Glove infielder Ha-Seong Kim.

Ohtani and the Dodgers got the best of their NL West rivals in Game 1 of the Seoul Series thanks to a four-run eighth inning that was capped by an RBI single from Los Angeles' newest superstar.

The Padres answered back the following day with a wild 15-11 triumph. It was their most runs scored against the Dodgers and the most runs in a game between the two division rivals.

2019: A’s vs. Mariners in Tokyo, Japan
March 20: SEA 9, OAK 7 | March 21: SEA 5, OAK 4 (12 inn.)

This season opener was historic for more than just its location. The two games were also Ichiro Suzuki’s last in the big leagues.

The Mariners swept the A’s during this series as Suzuki took the field in his native Japan for the final two games of his 19-year MLB career. At 45 years old, Suzuki became the second-oldest position player to start on Opening Day behind the ageless Julio Franco.

News broke during the second game of the series that Suzuki would soon be retiring from professional baseball.

2014: Dodgers vs. D-backs in Sydney, Australia
March 22: LAD 3, AZ 1 | March 23: LAD 7, AZ 5

The 2014 season openers at the historic Sydney Cricket Ground were the first Down Under in MLB history. It was the first time the league had opened its season internationally somewhere other than Tokyo since 2001.

The Dodgers took Game 1 behind Clayton Kershaw, who would go on to win the National League MVP and Cy Young Awards in one of the most dominant starting pitcher seasons in recent history.

Los Angeles also won the second game of the series, thanks to three-hit games from Dee Strange-Gordon, Yasiel Puig and Juan Uribe.

2012: A’s vs. Mariners in Tokyo, Japan
March 28: SEA 3, OAK 1 (11 inn.) | March 29: OAK 4, SEA 1

There was a bit more weight behind this international season opener as MLB and the MLB Players Association dedicated the series to rebuilding efforts in Japan after the devastating earthquake and tsunami of the previous March.

As he would seven years later, Suzuki took center stage in this season-opening series, collecting four hits and driving in Seattle’s final run during a 3-1, 11-inning win on Opening Day.

The A’s would win the second game one day later thanks to a masterful performance from starter Bartolo Colon, who threw eight innings of one-run ball.

2008: A’s vs. Red Sox in Tokyo, Japan
March 25: BOS 6, OAK 5 | March 26: OAK 5, BOS 1

Like Hideki Matsui before and Suzuki after him, Daisuke Matsuzaka, who had just made the NPB-MLB jump the year before, was the star of the show at Tokyo Dome.

Matsuzaka tossed a solid five innings, allowing two runs and striking out six in front of 44,628 fans during a comeback Opening Day win for the Red Sox. Hideki Okajima, who had also come over from Japan to join Boston, got the win in relief.

Rich Harden helped the A’s to a series split, going six innings while allowing just one run.

2004: Rays vs. Yankees in Tokyo, Japan
March 30: TB 8, NYY 3 | March 31: NYY 12, TB 1

Matsui made his return to the Tokyo Dome – where he played for the Yomiuri Giants for a decade – during this two-game series opener in 2004, and he did not disappoint.

Fresh off an All-Star rookie campaign, Matsui notched the first hit of the 2004 season, a double in the first inning on Opening Day.

In front of 55,000 fans during Game 2, the Japanese sensation would erupt with two hits, including a two-run home run off Geremi Gonzalez, the first of the career-high 31 Matsui would hit during the 2004 season.

2001: Rangers vs. Blue Jays in San Juan, Puerto Rico
April 1: TOR 8, TEX 1

Puerto Rico’s first MLB game was fittingly between two teams led by a pair of Puerto Rican stars: Carlos Delgado of the Blue Jays and Ivan Rodriguez of the Rangers.

Toronto would come out on top 8-1 in this one-game affair, with Delgado registering an RBI single in the seventh inning.

This 2001 Opening Day game would be the first of 49 MLB games (and counting) at San Juan's Estadio Hiram Bithorn.

2000: Mets vs. Cubs in Tokyo, Japan
March 29: CHC 5, NYM 3 | March 30: NYM 5, CHC 1

The Mets and Cubs’ two games in Tokyo were not only the first MLB contests of the millennium, but the first overseas as well.

Two of baseball’s most iconic stars of the era – Mets catcher Mike Piazza and Cubs outfielder Sammy Sosa – stepped onto the big stage during the first Opening Day outside the Western Hemisphere.

Piazza went 2-for-4 while Sosa went 2-for-3 and reached base four times in a 5-3 Chicago win. The Mets would get the last laugh by winning the second game, their first victory of what was ultimately a National League-pennant winning season.

1999: Rockies vs. Padres in Monterrey, Mexico
April 4: COL 8, SD 2

Three years after the first MLB game in Mexico, the league decided to take it a step further by hosting the first Opening Day outside of the U.S. or Canada.

An estimated 27,104 showed up to see the Padres and Rockies, the latter led by Mexico native and former All-Star Vinny Castilla, who lived up to every expectation.

Castilla had four hits, including a double and a run scored. Teammate Dante Bichette matched Castilla’s four hits, adding four RBIs en route to an 8-2 Colorado win.