Friday, August 20, 2010

Cubs vs. Mets - 2000 MLB Season Opening Series in Japan

The Cubs were trailblazers of sorts back at the beginning of the 21st century as they (along with Mets) became the first teams to play a regular season game outside of North America. They opened that season in Japan with a two game series against the Mets at the Tokyo Dome. Prior to these games, the only regular season game ever played outside of the U.S or Canada was in 1999 when the Rockies and Padres played in Mexico. Since the 2000 Opening Series in Japan, there have been two other season opening series played there - in 2004 when the Yankees played the Devil Rays and in 2008 when the Red Sox played the A's.

The Cubs, playing as the visiting team, won the first game of that series 5-3. Shane Andrews & Mark Grace homered in the game and Jon Lieber got the win with seven strong innings. Sammy Sosa chipped in with a double and Rick Aguilera pitched the 9th for the save. They lost the second game, while playing as the home team, 5-1 in 11 innings for a not so ordinary season opening series split. The second game was a pitcher's duel with only 11 total hits in 11 innings. The most important of those hits was by Benny Agbayani, whose grand slam in the 11th off Danny Young provided the winning margin.

There are a few different collectibles floating around related to this series in Japan. I've pictured the ones I've seen below. I personally like the game ticket that is almost completely in Japanese.

Common Program (I think this is the Official one produced by MLB)

Uncommon Program (I think this is more of a bootleg program)

Game Ticket

Homer Hanky given away to fans at the games

Japanese Action Figure Two-Pack sold to commemorate the series

May 2000 Vine Line


  1. The other program is not a "bootleg" program. First of all, Japan is not like China where crap gets bootlegged. The other program is a "guide" as the katakana characters on it say. You obviously have it, as do I, and it's just like a program. The difference in Japan is sports publications are super competitive especially the national sports newspapers. It's actually the April 2000 issue of Getsukan (= Monthly) Major League magazine put out by Baseball Magazine Sha (which is THE main baseball weekly/monthly mag publisher).

  2. Are you sure that's a homer hankie? I went to the game and have a similar looking item but it's just a plastic bag that came with either the "guide" or "program."

  3. Thanks for the background on the second 'program'! And as for 'homer hankie', I don't actually have one of them, so you are probably correct about that one. In looking at the photo, it seems to match the description you give. The only one I have ever seen was listed on eBay several years ago. The description was kind of vague and the asking price was way too high for me. So I didn't have a lot of information about that one until now.