A two-game series between the New York Yankees and the Miami Marlins will mark the return of Major League Baseball to Panama for the first time since 1947, Major League Baseball (MLB) and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) announced today. The "Legend Series" will be played on March 15th-16th at Panama City's Rod Carew Stadium and will honor the legacy of newly retired Yankees great Mariano Rivera, the game's all-time saves leader.
Rivera will serve as one of the promoters of the event in his native country, along with Magic Dreams Productions and Patricia Lynch. The Legend Series will include charitable events away from the field, including a gala featuring representation of both teams on Friday, March 14th that will benefit the Mariano Rivera Foundation. Proceeds from the dinner will go to Children's Hospital in Panama City, the largest pediatric hospital in the country.
"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," said Paul Archey, Senior Vice President, International Business Operations for Major League Baseball. "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."
"We're delighted to be joining Mariano Rivera and the Commissioner's Office in bringing Major League Baseball to the baseball-loving fans of Panama," said MLBPA Chief of Business Affairs, Tim Slavin. "We anticipate a warm reception, and believe these games will help advance the growth and popularity of baseball in Panama and throughout Central America. In addition to the Yankees and Marlins players and their respective front office personnel, we extend our gratitude to all involved in making these games a reality."
"The Yankees recognize that the sport of Baseball truly belongs to the world," said New York Yankees President, Randy Levine. "It makes our organization proud to support Major League Baseball and the Players Association in spreading the excitement of the game in the international community. Visiting Panama, the homeland of the great Mariano Rivera, will be a privilege for all those involved in this historic endeavor."
The Legend Series will mark a new chapter in Major League Baseball's history in Panama. Members of the Yankees, under Hall of Fame manager Joe McCarthy, trained in Panama in February of 1946 and played against an all-star team from the Panamanian professional league before an estimated crowd of 10,000 fans on February 21st. In the spring of 1947, the Yankees and the Brooklyn Dodgers played several exhibition games in Panama during a trip that also included stops in Cuba, Puerto Rico and Venezuela.
The Marlins-Yankees match-up is a renewal of the 2003 World Series. Both Clubs have participated in previous international events. Most recently, the Marlins squared off against the New York Mets in regular season games held at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 2010. The team also traveled to Puerto Rico in 2003 and 2004 for regular season games against the Montreal Expos, who played a portion of their home schedule on the island. In addition, the Marlins played a pair of Spring Training exhibition games against the Houston Astros in Mexico City in 2004. The Yankees opened the 2004 Championship Season at the Tokyo Dome in Japan against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
Overall, Panama will become the seventh country to host a contest between two Major League Clubs. MLB and the MLBPA have staged regular season contests in Mexico (1996, 1999), Japan (2000, 2004, 2008, 2012) and Puerto Rico (2001, 2003-2004, 2010) in addition to Spring Training matchups in the Dominican Republic (1999-2000), Mexico (1999-2004, 2008-2010), Venezuela (2000-2001) and China (2008).
There are currently four Panamanian players on 40-Man Major League rosters, including Atlanta catcher Christian Bethancourt; Arizona pitcher Randall Delgado; Philadelphia All-Star catcher Carlos Ruiz; and infielder Ruben Tejada of the New York Mets. Panama has produced 50 Major League players all-time, including Rivera; Hall of Famer Rod Carew, who was an 18-time All-Star and the winner of seven career batting titles; and Carlos Lee, a three-time All-Star who finished his 14-year Major League career with the Marlins in 2012.
Rod Carew Stadium, the most prominent baseball facility in Panama, opened in October 1999 and most recently played host to the Qualifier for the 2013 World Baseball Classic in November 2012. Team Brazil advanced to the 2013 World Baseball Classic after winning the Qualifier, which also featured the national teams of Colombia, Nicaragua and Panama.
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