Features

Sayonara, Tokyo

National | The start of Major League Baseball's 2003 season will look more Disneyland than Far East.

Issue: "Beginning of the end," March 29, 2003

The start of Major League Baseball's 2003 season will look more Disneyland than Far East. Just the possibility of a war in Iraq forced baseball officials to cancel the two-game series between Seattle and Oakland scheduled for March 25-26 in Japan. Instead, Anaheim will host Texas on March 30 for the 2003 season opener.

The cancellation of games in Japan will also delay several reunions. Mariners closer Kazuhiro Sasaki's mother was coming from Sendai City and his wife and children from Yokohama to watch him pitch in Tokyo. Seattle reliever Shigetoshi Hasegawa had purchased 120 tickets for each game against the Athletics for relatives and friends in his homeland.

Fans had bought 200,000 tickets for the two games at the Tokyo Dome. Seattle's visit was highly anticipated because of Ichiro Suzuki and Mr. Sasaki, who were stars in Japan before heading to the major leagues. "It can't be helped," said Moriyoshi Kaneko, a fish salesman in Tokyo. "I guess the threat of terrorism is frightening." It also would have been the first time new Seattle owner Hiroshi Yamauchi, who lives in Japan, saw his team play.

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NCAA President Myles Brand considered delaying the men's college basketball tournament in light of a possible invasion of Iraq. But Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge advised Mr. Brand not to delay the big dance.

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