Mexico City, for the first time in regular season games

Mexico City, for the first time in regular season games

MEXICO CITY — For the first time in history, Major League Baseball will play regular season games in Mexico City, with the Giants taking on the Padres at Estadio Alfredo Harp Helu on Friday and Saturday.

While this will be the sixth regular-season series in the country, it will be the first in the Federal District, the most recent being in 2019, as the others were in Monterey. The Padres and Diamondbacks were scheduled for a series. 2020 at the Alfredo Harp Helu Stadium, but these matches were canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Previously, the Padres played at said park against Diablos Rojos del Mexico of the LMP in an exhibition game – in March 2019, when the stadium opened.

“It makes me really excited because it’s my first time to Mexico City or Mexico in general,” Padres slugger Nelson Cruz said.

Alfredo Harp Helu Stadium—named after the Padres’ minority owner and the LMB’s Diablos Rojos and Guerreros de Oaxaca—has a capacity of 20,576 spectators. The Padres will be the home team for these games.

The last time Major League Baseball games were held in Mexico in 2019, the Estadio de Baseball Monterrey had a total of three series: a preseason showdown between the Rockies and Diamondbacks in March, followed by regular season series. Reds-Cardinals in April and Angels-Astros in May. The last time a Major League Baseball game was played in Latin America—regular season or exhibition season—was in March 2020, when the Grapefruit League moved to Quisquia Juan Marichal Stadium in the Dominican Republic for a game between the Tigers and Twins. Before the pandemic halted spring training.

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In addition to canceling the Padres-Diamondbacks series scheduled for April 2020 at Harp Helu Stadium, the Mets and Marlins were scheduled to play in Puerto Rico later that season, as were the Cubs and Cardinals in England as part of London. Cont.

This year, the London Series will resume on June 24 and 25 at the London Stadium.

“It’s another big step for Major League Baseball,” San Diego outfielder Juan Soto said. “I’m very happy to bring joy to our Latino community, not only here in the United States, but to other countries as well.”

In the past, Mexico City has been the scene of four preseason series, the first three at Foro Sol Stadium: Piratas-Devil Rays in 2001, Mets-Dodgers in 2003 and Marlins-Astros in 2004. In 2016, the Astros and Padres clashed at Frey Nano Stadium.

“I think it’s going to be a big deal,” Giants outfielder Mike Yastrzemski said. “It’s going to be a great opportunity. Obviously, it’s going to be a different environment and I think it’s going to be fun to experience it. Obviously, baseball is popular in Mexico, but I think it’s a great thing for MLB to go there in particular.”

For the Giants, this will be their first appearance in regular season games outside of the United States/Canada. But this is nothing new for the Padres. The first such games were part of the celebration in 1996 when San Diego played a three-game series against the Mets in Monterey. Three years later, the Padres opened the 1999 regular season in Monterey against the Rockies, returning to Monterey in 2018 for three games against the Dodgers.

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Counting this weekend’s series against the Giants, San Diego will have been part of four of the six times that regular-season Major League Baseball has been played in Mexico.

“It’s always special,” Cruz said. “I had the opportunity to go to an exhibition game in the Dominican Republic. It was great for the fans to see this unfamiliar type of game. And now it’s the same in Mexico City, a regular season game, it’s going to be even better.”

This is the ninth time MLB has hosted regular season games in Latin America, excluding the 2003 and 2004 Montreal Expos’ home schedule held at Hiram Pithorn Stadium in Puerto Rico. In addition to five previous series in Mexico, San Juan’s Hiram Pithorn was the site of the 2001 Opening Day games between the Blue Jays and Rangers, as well as the Mets and Marlins in 2010 and Minnesota and Cleveland in 2018.

Overall, MLB has played more than 200 games in 11 countries and territories outside of the United States and Canada.

“I think there’s a good coincidence of fans in Mexico City and Mexico,” Giants manager Gabe Kapler said. “I think we need to expand and grow the fanbase as much as we can. Obviously, I think there’s room for fans in Mexico to enjoy local professional baseball and be fans of Major League Baseball, so it’s very exciting.”

Arzu Daniel

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