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MLB vs. Japan: Battle of the All-Stars

After several Marlins contributed to the 2018 Japan All-Star Series, we review the storied history of meetings between MLB and NPB players.

J.T. Realmuto competed in the 2018 Japan All-Star Series
Photo by Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images

The 2018 Japan All-Star Series wrapped up last week. Samurai Japan beat the MLB All-Stars, taking five out of six games in the 12th edition of this MLB/NPB clash. Marlins J.T. Realmuto and Don Mattingly couldn’t carry the rest of the team on their shoulders.

Major League Baseball still comfortably leads the all-time series, 9-3. Realmuto is just one of seven players to represent the Marlins in the Far East through the years:

Key contributors to the 03’ W.S Marlins team. Miggy & D-Train rolled into Japan for the 04’ series.
  • 2018 - J.T. Realmuto, C

Don’t forget coaches Bill Robinson (2006) and Fredi González and Don Mattingly (2018).

We now relive the rich history of the Japan All-Star Series with year-by-year results and notable individual performances.


A best-of-seven series between Major League Baseball and NPB All-Star Team. The MLB team made a statement with their 6-1 advantage.

Johnson led the star-studded bunch that included several future Hall of Famers.

Notable players: Jack Morris, John Franco, Ryne Sandberg, Ozzie Smith, Cal Ripken Jr., Tony Gwynn, Dale Murphy, Jose Canseco


Back-to-back! MLB wins the series again, 3-2-2. Shortstop sensation Barry Larkin claims the MVP honors.

Notable players: Orel Hershiser, Greg Maddux, Benito Santiago, Andres Galarraga, Fred McGriff, Harold Reynolds, Bobby Bonilla, Paul Molitor, Rafael Palmeiro, Kirby Puckett


The MLB All-Stars finally fall to NPB, 4-3-1. Even though Japan won this tight series, an American gets the ultimate recognition.

Notable players: Randy Johnson, Ramon Martinez, Sandy Alomar Jr, Mike Scioscia, Julio Franco, Ozzie Guillen, Barry Bonds, Ken Griffey Sr., Ken Griffey Jr. (“The Kid”)

First time the world glimpses at father & son outside the states


MLB won, 4-2-2.

Notable players: Roger Clemens, Darren Daulton, Wade Boggs, Craig Biggio, Ozzie “The Wizard” Smith, Larry Walker, Ruben Sierra.

1994 - Cancelled due to players union strike


MLB won, 4 -2 -2.

  • MVP: Steve Finley
  • Manager: Dusty Baker (San Fransisco Giants)

Notable players: Pedro Martinez, Troy Percival, Hideo Nomo, Mike Piazza, Ivan Rodríguez, Alex Rodriguez, Chuck Knoblauch, Brady Anderson, Gary Sheffield, Juan Gonzalez, Marquis Grissom


MLB won, 6 -2.

Notable players: Al Leiter, Kevin Millwood, Curt Schilling, Tom “Flash” Gordon, Trevor Hoffman, Ugueth Urbina, Billy Wagner, Jason Kendall, Javy Lopez, Jason Giambi, Carlos Delgado, Nomar Garciaparra, Vinny Castilla, Sammy Sosa, Manny Ramirez, Devon White, Garret Anderson, Andruw Jones


MLB won, 5-2-1.

  • MVP: Barry Bonds (San Fransisco Giants)
  • Manager: Bobby Cox (Atlanta Braves)

Notable players: Ryan Dempster, Livan Hernandez, Derek Lowe, Bengie Molina, Troy Glaus, Jeff Kent, Omar Vizquel, Luis Gonzalez, Shawn Green


MLB won series, 5-3.

  • MVP: Torii Hunter (Minnesota Twins)
  • Manager: Art Howe (New York Mets)

Notable players: Mark Buehrle, Bartolo Colon, Eric Gagne, Brad Penny, Paul LoDuca, Eric Chavez, Derrek Lee , Jimmy Rollins, Pat Burrell, Bernie Williams, Ichiro Suzuki

Marlins players Lee & Penny enjoy the festivities in ‘02


MLB won series, 5-3.

Notable players: Kiko Calero, Roger Clemens, Dontrelle Willis, Marcus Giles, Victor Martínez, David Ortiz, Miguel Cabrera


MLB swept the series, 5-0.

  • MVP: Ryan Howard (Philadelphia Phillies)
  • Manager: Bruce Bochy (San Diego Padres)

Notable players: Bronson Arroyo, John Maine, David Wright, Rafael Furcal, Chase Utley, Joe Mauer

The series was discontinued after that. A new deal was struck in 2014, this time with Samurai Japan as the opponent. Instead of matching up every other year, it’s every four years moving forward.


Samurai Japan won series, 3-2.

Notable players: Jerry Blevins, Chris Capuano, Mark Melancon, Salvador Perez, Robinson Canó, José Altuve, Evan Longoria, Ben Zobrist, Yasiel Puig, Dexter Fowler


Samurai Japan won, 5-1.

  • MVP: TBA
  • Manager: Don Mattingly (Miami Marlins)

Notable players: Collin McHugh, Scott Barlow, Yadier Molina, J.T. Realmuto, Chris Taylor, Ronald Acuña Jr., Juan Soto, Rhys Hoskins

Sure, it’s easy to say it’s been a one-sided affair with MLB leading 9-3, but nonetheless, some stars have been involved in past series and have made it for memorable experiences for fans. This series is helping increase the popularity of baseball and exposing its stars around the world.


Have you followed the MLB All-Stars on their trip to Japan before?

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  • 54%
    (12 votes)
  • 27%
    (6 votes)
  • 18%
    Wasn’t aware such a series existed
    (4 votes)
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