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Japan – South Korea Dream Players Game Set For July 22

 Matt Tallarini  |    May 16th, 2024 5:58pm EDT

Kyuji Fujikawa #21 of the Texas Rangers throws. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

The Dream Players Game between Japan and South Korea will be played at Es Con Field in Hokkaido, Japan, on July 22, according to Korean Baseball Organization and Major League Baseball Reporter Daniel Kim.

The Dream Players Game will be played with retired players in international senior events and their respectable leagues in the Korean Baseball Organization in South Korea and Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan.


The Japan team will be led by manager Tatsunori Hara and coaches Hisashi Yamada and Koichi Ogata. Former NPB and MLB players such as Motonobu Tanishige, Takashi Doritani, Michihiro Ogasawara, Koji Uehara, Seiichi Uchikawa, Atsunori Inaba, Hisashi Iwakuma, Kenji Jojima, Kyuji Fujikawa, and Kosuke Fukudome will be on the team.


Iwakuma, Fujikawa, Fukodome, Uehara, and Jojima all played in the MLB during their professional careers.


Fujikawa played for the Chicago Cubs from 2013-14 and the Texas Rangers in 2015. He also played for the Hanshin Tigers in two stints from 1999-2012 and 2016-20.


Fujikawa won the WBC in 2006 and 2009 with the Japan national team.


Iwakuma played in the MLB with the Seattle Mariners from 2012-17 and with three different NPB teams during his career. He played with the Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes from 2000-04, the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles from 2005-11, and the Yomiuri Giants in 2019.


Uehara played for the Baltimore Orioles from 2009-11, the Texas Rangers from 2011-12, the Boston Red Sox from 2013-2016, and the Chicago Cubs in 2017. Uehara played in two stints with the Yomiuri Giants from 1999-2008 and 2018-19.


Uehara was an All-Star in 2014 with Boston, won the World Series in 2013, and was the American League Championship Serie MVP in 2013.


Fukodome played for the Chicago Cubs from 2008 to 2011, the Cleveland Indians in 2011, and the Chicago White Sox in 2012. He also played for the Chunichi Dragons in two stints from 1999-2007 and 2021-22 and the Hanshin Tigers from 2013-20.


Fukodome was selected as an All-Star in his MLB rookie season 2008 and won two WBC championships with Japan in 2006 and 2009.


Jojima played for the Seattle Mariners from 2006 to 2009. In Japan, he played with the Fukuoka Daiei-SoftBank Hawks from 1995 to 2005 and the Hanshin Tigers from 2010 to 12.


Jojima also won the gold in the 2009 WBC championship.


Manager In-sik Kim will lead South Korea and coaches Kyung-hyuin Ahn, Yang Sang-moon Yang, and Jong-hoon Jang. The South Korean team will have KBO legendary players and former MLB players such as Dae-sung Koo, Kyung-wan Park, Seok-min Park, Jong-ho Park, Han-yi Park, Jae-eung Seo, Si-heon Son, Joon-hyuk Yang, Seok-min Yoon, Jong-beom Lee, Hye-cheon Lee, and Sung-ho Jang play in the Dream Players Game.


Koo and Seo both played in the MLB during their professional careers.


Seo played for the New York Mets from 2002-05, the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2006, and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays from 2006-07 before playing in the KBO with the Kia Tigers from 2008-15. Koo played for the Mets in the 2005 regular season and with the Hanwha Eagles in two separate stints from 1993-2000 and 2006-10.


Hara managed Japan, and Kim managed South Korea during the 2009 World Baseball Classic.


Both managers faced off in the 2009 WBC Championship Game in Chavez Ravine at Dodger Stadium, where Japan won its second consecutive title, beating South Korea 5-3 in 10 innings.


Japan has the most titles in the WBC, with three since the tournament began in 2006.


Kim Wonik of Maeil Business Sports Newspaper in South Korea reported on May 13, “that the match was designed to promote international exchanges through baseball, with respect and appreciation for seniors who have built up the history of professional baseball between the two countries. It is hosted by the Fighters Sports & Entertainment promotion group and was organized through cooperation from NPB league officials”.


“I am very honored to be the coach in the ‘Korea-Japan Dream Players Game’, where Japanese and Korean legends gather. In Japanese baseball, Korea is special, being both a good rival and a friendly country. As players who have left their names in baseball history in Japan and Korea gather, I feel like I’m reviving the excitement of the time when I competed in international games, Hara told Wonik on May 13.


“It is an honor to participate as a manager in a meaningful game in which Korean and Japanese fans share communication through baseball exchanges and promote friendship between the two countries’ ‘, Kim stated to Maeil Business Newspaper.


“There are many great players in the Japanese team, but we will do our best to make our Korean team play an unabashed game.” I hope this game will lead to continuous exchange matches in the future,” Kim credited to the Japan national team.


The Dream Players Game will start at 6:30 p.m. Japan Standard Time on July 22.


Es Con Field is home to the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters of NPB in Japan.


Es Con Field opened its doors during the beginning of the 2023 NPB regular season after the Ham Fighters left the Sapporo Dome after the 2022 season.