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, the league and the players association announced Thursday.
The "Legend Series" will be played on March 15-16 at Panama City's Rod Carew Stadium and will honor the legacy of retired Yankees great Mariano Rivera, the game's all-time saves leader.
"As long as I can remember, it has been my dream to bring my team, the Yankees, to play baseball in Panama," Rivera said in a statement. "I grew up playing in Puerto Caimito, where I developed my passion for baseball and began a journey that brought me to New York. It is my hope that this legacy series will inspire other young players to pursue their dreams. I am very grateful to Major League Baseball, the players association, the Yankees and the Marlins in making this dream become a reality."
Rivera 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 Friday, 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," said Paul Archey, MLB's senior vice president for international business operations. "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 Yankees recognize that the sport of baseball truly belongs to the world," said 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 Marlins are extremely pleased to be playing in Panama and we look forward to introducing our team to our neighbors in Central America," Marlins president David Samson said. "Teaming up with a baseball legend in his home country will be a great experience for our players and fans alike. The Marlins are excited to support MLB's and the MLBPA's continuous efforts to promote our great game internationally."
The two-game set is part of the 2014 spring training schedule.
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 of 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.