The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) have unveiled the rosters for the upcoming Europe versus Japan two-game baseball series, due to be held at the Tokyo Dome on March 10 and 11.
The event is the first of its kind in the history of the sport and will see European baseball players from the 43 WBSC Member National Federations take on Japan, the world's top ranked team.
Included in the European side, who are coached by The Netherlands' National Team manager Steve Janssen, is 10-time Major League Baseball Gold Glove winner Andruw Jones, one of 15 Dutch players taking part.
Italy will also be well represented with six participants, while France, Germany and Spain will also have a strong presence for the European outfit.
Despite building a strong roster, Europe are still rank outsiders to cause an upset by beating what looks to be an imperious Samurai Japan team, which includes players from all 12 Nippon Professional Baseball's (NPB) clubs.
As many as 19 players who featured in Japan's best-of-five series win over the top talent that America's Major League Baseball (MLB) had to offer are set to be involved, an ominous sign for the newly-formed Europeans.
The WSBC also announced that sportswear giant Asics will sponsor Europe, and they will provide the team with all of their clothing for the event, as well as hats, shoes, belts, jackets and undershirts, with the kit due to be officially unveiled next month.
"The WBSC couldn't be more pleased to partner with a leading, high-performance sports brand, like Asics, to help guarantee a successful launch of this new type of competition in which Europe will make its debut," Masaru Yokoo, WBSC baseball marketing director, said.
"This is a great day for our sport and another key step forward that highlights baseball's rise and potential in Europe as a viable and attractive property."
The matches during the series will be officiated by umpires from the Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL), who are an associate member of the WSBC, to ensure neutrality throughout the contest.
The eagerly-anticipated series sees baseball softball continue its drive for inclusion on the Olympic programme for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, as the formation of a European team looks a clear nod to how baseball is developing across the continent.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) have not yet confirmed whether any additional sports will be included at the Tokyo Games but if they opt to add any, baseball remains in with a chance of taking place on the world's biggest sporting stage for the first time since London 2012.
To see Japan's roster click here and for Europe's click here.
Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]
February 2015: New European team to take on world number one ranked Samurai Japan