MLB plans the first official games for South Korea to begin next season

In its continued effort to take America’s national pastime international, Major League Baseball will play official games in South Korea for the first time next season.

According to ESPN, the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres will open the season there, then return home to rest before resuming the schedule along with the other 28 clubs.

The Dodgers are no strangers to players away from the Lower 48; they kicked off the 2014 campaign in Australia when Major League Baseball made its first visit Down Under.

Opening day games have also been played in Tokyo (several times) and Mexico.

Since 1999, eight Opens have been played outside of North America. The last one happened in 2019 when the schedule started at the Tokyo Dome.

There is also an international element to this year’s schedule, with matches scheduled for Mexico City and London. The Padres took both contests in Mexico from the Giants, while the Cubs and Cardinals will meet in England next month.

Official MLB games first went outside North America in 1996 when the San Diego Padres and New York Mets met in a three-game series in August in Monterrey, Mexico.

Three years later, the Colorado Rockies defeated the Padres in a one-game sweep at the same ballpark, the Estadio de Beisbol Monterrey.

Opening Day contests were played at the Tokyo Dome in 2000, when the Cubs and Mets played their first two games there; in 2004, when the Rays faced the Yankees twice; in 2008 with the Red Sox against the Athletics; and in 2012 when the A’s met the Mariners.

In 2014, the Arizona Diamondbacks played their first two games of the season against the Los Angeles Dodgers at the Sydney Cricket Ground in Australia.

Major League Baseball returned to Monterey in 2018 with a three-game set between the Dodgers and Padres.

A year later, the two-game series between the A’s and the Mariners featured the retirement of Seattle outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, an All-Star on both sides, and also marked the earliest start in baseball history: March 20.

This season also featured unusual matchups in both Monterey (Cardinals vs. Reds and Astros vs. Angels) and London (Yankees vs. Red Sox).

Played at London Stadium, the Yankees-Red Sox game on June 29, 2019 drew 59,659 fans, more than any other major league game on foreign shores.

Plans for additional games in non-traditional venues were shelved by the COVID-19 pandemic until this season, with the first MLB games in Mexico City (Giants vs. Padres) and the resumption of the London Series (Cubs vs. Cardinals).

Beginning this year, games played outside of the United States or Canada have been dubbed the “MLB World Tour” by Major League Baseball.

This tour will come to Paris for the first time in 2025 with matches – the first in continental Europe – to be played at the Stade de France. Both the Yankees and Dodgers have notified the Commissioner’s Office that they are interested in participating in the Paris Games.

In addition to games in other countries, MLB stages dozens of other games outside the United States and Canada. Puerto Rico, a US territory, has hosted 49 major league games, 43 of them “home games” for the attendance-driven Montreal Expos, a franchise that in 2005 became the Washington Nationals.

Of the six non-Expo games, the Mets and Marlins have met in three of them, a streak dating back to 2010. Internationals history includes one no-hitter (May 4, 2018, four Dodgers pitchers blanking Padres) and one game with extra innings.

Official dates for the games in South Korea have not been announced, but they will be early enough to allow both teams to return home for a break before resuming the regular season, just as the Dodgers and Diamondbacks did when they played in Australia.

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