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Dr. Khalfayan

Dr. Khalfayan is an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine who the region's professional athletes trust and rely on.

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2012 Japan Opening Series

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2012 Japan Opening Series

The Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics opened the 2012 season in Tokyo, Japan on March 28, 2012.  The two-game series was dedicated to assisting in the rebuilding efforts in Japan as it continues its recovery from the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami last March.

The Mariners played exhibition games on March 25th against the Hanshin Tigers losing 5-1, and on March 26th against the Yomiuri Giants losing 9-3.

Former Mariners catcher Kenji Johjima started at first base for Hanshin. Randy Messenger, also a former Mariner, is a reliever for Hanshin.

The Mariners won the first game against the Athletics 3-1 behind a strong pitching performance by Felix Hernandez and four hits by Ichiro Suzuki.  Oakland won the second game 4-1.

 

Departing for Japan

Departing for Japan

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The Tokyo Dome

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The Japanese teams had two batting cages and simultaneous batting practice sessions. 

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Dr. Khalfayan in the Tokyo Dome

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Mariners Medical and Athletic Training Staff in Tokyo Dome

 

Major League Baseball in Japan – A Brief History

2012 Japan Opening Series is the latest in a series of Major League Baseball events in Japan that began in 1908. That year, the All-American Team traveled to Japan and went undefeated in 19 games against its Japanese counterparts. Since then, there have been 37 additional tours of Japan by Major League Baseball 

All-Star teams,

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Negro League Teams and individual Major League Baseball teams.

Interest in the game of baseball in the early part of this century was  spreading quickly in Asia and tours of Japan by American baseball players became increasingly popular. Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig selected an All-Star team that traveled to Asia in 1934. They played 18 games in Japan and five more in surrounding nations. The Ruth-Gehrig team went unbeaten in the first 16 games and decided to pool the Japanese and American teams for the final two games in order to make the games more competitive. Legend has it that one Japanese fan walked 80 miles in the rain to see the game in Kokura. He carried with him a sword to give to the first American to hit a home run. Earl Averill won the trophy.

Tours of Japan by U.S. professional teams ceased during World War II. The tradition resumed in 1949 when the San Francisco Seals, managed by Lefty O'Doul, went undefeated in six games versus Japanese teams. Two years later, Joe DiMaggio closed out his career in Japan when he and O'Doul led a team of Major and minor league players to the islands. The squad barnstormed through Japan and posted a 13-1-1 record. Interest in the games was widespread throughout Japan and each game was attended by nearly 50,000 fans.

 

Two separate tours by North American teams took place in 1953. The New York Giants, accompanied by Baseball Commissioner Ford Frick, made a month-long trip to Hawaii, Japan, Manila, Okinawa, and Guam. The Giants were 11-1 in Japan. Also in 1953, Eddie Lopat headed an All-Star team that went 12-1-1 against its Asian foes. More than 365,000 fans attended the exhibitions.

In 1955, the New York Yankees made one of the most successful tours of Japan ever by a North American team – a four-country, 25-game tour that was sponsored by the Mainichi newspapers of Japan. The Yankees went 15-0-1 in 16 appearances in Japan, drawing a total of 478,000 fans with a top crowd of 64,000 in Osaka. Yogi Berra,

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Whitey Ford, Mickey Mantle and Billy Martin were among the stars that made the trip. The tour was not only considered a success for the game of baseball but also for the state of international relations between the two nations as well.

The following year, the Brooklyn Dodgers represented Major League Baseball in Japan, marking the first time that tours of Japan had taken place in consecutive years. The Dodgers, after battling to win the National League Championship and a seven-game World Series, suffered the most losses ever to that point by a North American team in Japan. Their 14-4-1record highlighted the Dodgers' weariness as well as an improved level of play by the Japanese.  

 

 

 

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Tours of Japan continued throughout the 1960s and 1970s. However, individual Major League teams - including the Giants, Tigers, Orioles, Mets, Cardinals and Reds - made the trips instead of All-Star teams.

The 1980's saw four teams travel to Asia. In 1981, the Kansas City Royals went 9-7-1 against their Japanese opponents. In 1984 the

Baltimore Orioles went 4-1 in a special series against the Japanese champion Hiroshimo Carp and were 4-4-1 in a series of games against other Japanese teams and all-star teams.

In 1986, a team of Major League All-Stars won a seven-game series against the Japanese, 6-1. Tony Pena was selected Most Valuable Player of the Major League team by the Japanese coaches. He batted .318 with a pair of home runs and also caught every inning of the final five games.

The Major League All-Star team edged the Japanese, 3-2-2, in 1988. The series, sponsored by the Yomiuri Shimbun, marked the 28th time since 1908 that a professional team had traveled to Asia. The Major League Most Valuable Player award, selected by the Japanese coaching staff, went to Barry Larkin of the Reds.

The Japanese defeated the Major League All-Stars, 4-3-1, in 1990, the only time a Major League team was defeated in a series. The Japanese won four-straight games before the Major League All-Stars rallied to win the final three. The Major League All-Stars closed out the series in historic fashion with a combined no-hitter by Chuck Finley and Randy Johnson. It was the first no-hitter in a series against Japan since Baltimore's Pat Dobson pitched one in 1971.

The Major League All-Stars recaptured their winning form during the 1992 tour, defeating the Japanese, 6-1-1, in the eight-game series. It was the most wins for the Major League All-Stars since they went 6-1 in 1986. The Japanese players voted Mark Grace of the Cubs the Major League MVP. Grace batted .385 with three home runs and eight RBI’s.

The 1992 series was a showcase for Hideo Nomo, who would be the National League Rookie of the Year in 1995. The right-handed pitcher appeared in three games - one as a starter - and racked up 11 strikeouts in just eight innings of work. Nomo was a member of the Kintetsu Buffaloes of the Japanese Pacific League before retiring after the 1994 season. In 1995, Nomo became the first Japanese-born player to join a Major League Baseball team after playing professionally in Japan's Central and Pacific Leagues.

The next Major League Baseball All-Star Tour of Japan took place in November 1996. The Major League All-Stars posted a 4-2-2 record in the eight-game series, which featured four sellouts and two near sellouts and drew a record 363,000 fans for the games in Tokyo, Seibu, Fukuoka, Osaka and Yokohama.

San Diego Padres center fielder Steve Finley was named the series MVP Hideki Matsui of the Central League champion Yomiuri Giants was named MVP of the Japan team by the MLB All-Stars. Hideo Nomo, pitching this time for the Major League Baseball All-Stars, did not receive a decision in either of his two starts.  Nomo pitched 7.0 innings over the two starts, allowing six hits and four runs (all earned) while striking out four and giving up two bases on balls.

The Tour returned to Japan in 1998. The MLB team, led by Tour MVP Sammy Sosa and the pitching of Jamie Moyer and Rick Helling, finished 6-2. Sosa, coming off his home run chase with Mark McGwire, batted .481 with three homers and 10 RBI while Moyer and Helling won two games apiece.

For the first time in the history of the Japan Tour, each of the eight games was a sellout, for a total 419,000 fans.  This is despite Japan’s worst recession since World War II and despite the fact that both the professional baseball and soccer league in Japan both suffered a significant drop in attendance in 1998.

Major League Baseball made history in 2000 when the Chicago Cubs and the New York Mets opened the 2000 season with a pair of games in Tokyo. The games were the first in-season games ever played in Japan and marked the first time

 that MLB had ever started the season outside of the U.S., Canada or Mexico. The 55,000 seat Tokyo Dome sold out both games in less than five hours when tickets went on sale months before the event. On the field, the Cubs won Game One, 5-3, behind the strong pitching of Jon Lieber, while the Mets earned a split on Benny Agbayani’s 11th inning pinch-hit grand slam in Game Two.

The games made worldwide news. More than 125 journalists representing 51 international news organizations attended the games and were joined by an additional 250 Japanese journalists.

In 2000 the MLB All-Stars completed an 8-game Japan tour with a record of 5-2-1. Barry Bonds finished the series with a .321 average, four home runs, nine RBI and was named series MVP.

One of the most memorable Japan All-Star Series took place in 2002. The MLB team rallied from a 0-3 deficit to win the series 4-3. Torri Hunter, who made two remarkable catches in centerfield, including an over-the-shoulder catch reminiscent of Willie May’s 1954 World Series grab, was the Series MVP. In addition to the great defense, he batted .333 with two homers. Barry Bonds of the Giants, making his fourth appearance in Japan, batted .367 with five homers, including a grand slam. The team also featured the return to Japan of Ichiro Suzuki of the Mariners. The games earned the largest ever television ratings for a Japan Tour and all but two of the eight games (which included an “exhibition” game against the Yomiuri Giants), were sellouts.

After the 2003 Opening Series between the Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners was canceled due to the war in Iraq, MLB returned to Japan in 2004 when the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and the New York Yankees opened the season at the Tokyo Dome. More than 300,000 fans watched as Yankees outfield Hideki Matsui returned home.

 

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The teams split the two games series as Julio Lugo of the Rays was named MVP for Game One and Matsui earned the honors in Game Two. 

The Major League Baseball All-Star Team won the first four games on the 2004 All-Star Series before the Japan team stormed back with three consecutive victories. But in the last game, the Padres’ Jake Peavy hurled six shutout innings and allowed just two hits while striking out four to defeat the NPB All-Star Team, 5-0, in front of 41,000 fans at the Tokyo Dome to win the eighth game of the series. The win gave the MLB All-Stars the series win, 5 games to 3.

Headliners on the tour included Astros pitcher and Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens as well as sluggers David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez of the world champion Boston Red Sox.

The Major League Baseball All-Stars finished the Japan All-Star Series 2006 with a 10-inning, 5-3 victory over the Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) All-Stars in Game 5, becoming the first-ever team to sweep the Japan All-Star Series since

 it began in 1986. With the five victories, the MLB All-Stars collected 140 million yen in prize money. More than 200,000 fans attended games in Tokyo (4), Osaka (1) and Fukuoka (1).

 

 

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The most recent MLB event in Japan occurred in 2008 when the Boston Red Sox and Oakland A’s squared off for the third opening day played in the country. The games featured the return to Japan of Daisuke Matsuzaka. The teams split the two game series. More than 200,000 fans watched the six games.