LONDON — The Cubs and Cardinals will meet in the 2023 MLB London Series beginning Saturday, a pair of games played at London Stadium, which was originally built for the 2012 Olympics. The Cardinals will be the “home” team and bat last.
This is the second time MLB teams have met in London. The Red Sox and Yankees played the first MLB London Series in 2019. Going forward, international MLB games are being branded as “MLB World Tour.”
All told, there have been 31 MLB games played outside North America, and here are the dates, teams and results. This list excludes 43 Montreal Expos “home” games played in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 2003 and 2004 (which included three Cubs vs. Expos games there in 2003), but does include six neutral-site games played in San Juan in 2001, 2010 and 2018. It also excludes “world tours” such as the one the White Sox and Giants made in 1914, since those were exhibition games.
1996: Mets vs. Padres at Estadio de Béisbol Monterrey in Monterrey, Mexico
The Padres took two of three from the Mets in these first-ever MLB games in Mexico:
Total attendance for the three-game series was 67,382.
1999: Rockies vs. Padres at Estadio de Béisbol Monterrey in Monterrey, Mexico
This one-game “series” was on Opening Day; the Padres and Rockies continued their set at Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego.
April 4: Rockies 8, Padres 2
Attendance was 27,104.
2000: Cubs vs. Mets at Tokyo Dome, Tokyo, Japan
The Cubs split two games with the Mets in Japan, serving as the visiting team for the first game and home team for the second game.
Attendance for both games was reported as 55,000. That was a standard number given for all games played at Tokyo Dome until an official capacity of around 44,000 was given for that stadium several years after this series was played.
Here’s the full Fox Sports Net (Cubs) broadcast of the first of these games.
2001: Rangers vs. Blue Jays at Estadio Hiram Bithorn, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Again, this was a one-off on Opening Day. Unlike the 1999 series in Mexico, though, the Jays and Rangers played just one game in San Juan with Toronto as the “home” team. The Jays and Rangers “continued” their series in Toronto April 24.
April 1: Blue Jays 8, Rangers 1
Attendance was 19,891.
2004: Devil Rays vs. Yankees at Tokyo Dome, Tokyo, Japan
These were both Yankees “home” games and they were coming off a league pennant, while Tampa Bay had lost 99 games the previous year. They had lost at least 92 in all six years of their existence. Nevertheless, the teams split the two games.
Again, the fake 55,000 attendance number was used for both games.
2008: Red Sox vs. Athletics at Tokyo Dome, Tokyo, Japan
The A’s were the designated home team and the teams split the two games.
This time, more realistic attendance figures were announced: 44,628 and 44,735.
2010: Mets vs. Marlins at Estadio Hiram Bithorn, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Instead of the typical season-opening set, these teams played a three-game series in San Juan at mid-season.
Total attendance was 55,678, an average of 18,559 in the 20,000 seat stadium.
2014: Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Arizona Diamondbacks at Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney, Australia
These two N.L. West teams played the first MLB games ever in Australia. The second game was played in the afternoon so it could be televised in prime time in the evening in the USA.
Attendance for the two games was 76,345.
2018: Indians vs. Twins at Estadio Hiram Bithorn, San Juan, Puerto Rico
The teams split these two games, with Minnesota the “home” team.
39,053 attended this two-game series.
2018: Dodgers vs. Padres at Estadio de Béisbol Monterrey, Monterrey, Mexico
This included the first no-hitter thrown outside the USA or Canada, a combined effort by Walker Buehler, Tony Cingrani, Yimi Garcia and Adam Liberatore in the first game of the three-game set. The Padres got a measure of revenge by winning the other two games.
Total attendance was 65,116. Here’s the combined no-hitter:
2019: Mariners vs. Athletics at Tokyo Dome, Tokyo, Japan
Ichiro Suzuki came out of retirement to play these two games in his home country, to huge adulation, even though he went 0-for-5. The two-game stint delayed Ichiro’s likely Hall of Fame induction until 2025.
The total attendance was 92,238.
Here is Ichiro’s farewell to baseball in the second of those games:
2019: Cardinals vs Reds at Estadio de Béisbol Monterrey, Monterrey, Mexico
St. Louis and Cincinnati split these two games, played as Reds home games.
33,289 attended this two-game series.
2019: Astros vs. Angels at Estadio de Béisbol Monterrey, Monterrey, Mexico
For the first time, MLB played two regular-season series in Mexico. The Angels were the “home” team, but Houston won both contests.
35,791, a bit more than the number who watched the Reds and Cardinals play, attended this series.
2019: Red Sox vs. Yankees at London Stadium, London, England
Both of these games were played as Red Sox “home” games, but in order to show off the teams’ “classic” looks, both teams wore their white home uniforms.
The first game was a slugfest featuring six home runs; the second, slightly lower-scoring, had four long balls hit.
Here are eight minutes of highlights from the first of those games:
Attendance was 59,695 for the first game and 59,095 for the second, the largest crowds to see a MLB game outside North America.
2023: Padres vs. Giants at Alfredo Harp Helú Stadium, Mexico City, Mexico
These were the first MLB regular-season games ever played in Mexico City. The stadium sits at 7,349 feet above sea level, making these the highest-elevation games in MLB history. The elevation, or bad pitching, or both, led to 11 home runs being hit in the first of these two games, both won by San Diego. Total attendance for the two-game set: 39,244.