North American baseball league the MLB has announced it will stage the first major league games in Panama since 1947, with the New York Yankees set to face the Miami Marlins in a two-game series on March 15-16.
The games, entitled the Legend Series, will form part of the two clubs’ spring training schedule. They will be played at Panama City’s Rod Carew Stadium and will honour newly retired Yankees great Mariano Rivera, the game’s all-time saves leader.
The 43-year-old pitcher was born in Panama City and will serve as one of the promoters of the event in his native country. The Legend Series will include charitable events away from the field, including a gala featuring representation of both teams on March 14 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,” Paul Archey, senior vice-president of international business operations for MLB, said. "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.”
The Legend Series will mark a new chapter in MLB’s history in Panama. Members of the Yankees, under Hall of Fame manager Joe McCarthy, trained in Panama in February 1946 and played against an all-star team from the Panamanian professional league before an estimated crowd of 10,000 fans. 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.
Overall, Panama will become the seventh country to host a contest between two MLB clubs. The league has 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).