BOSTON -- The first encounter frenzied Japan.
Ichiro Suzuki was already an established All-Star when Daisuke Matsuzaka made his celebrated way from high school phenomenon to Seibu Lion. So their first confrontation on May 16, 1999, drew an overflow crowd of 50,000 into the Seibu Dome.
History repeats tonight at 7:05 p.m. ET, and fans will have a pitch-by-pitch up-close view.
Once again, Ichiro is an established American League All-Star as Matsuzaka makes his spectacular global crossing into the rotation of the Boston Red Sox.
And when they meet across 60 1/2 feet of some of the most storied real estate in New England, BaseballChannel.TV will by the fly on the Green Monster wall for fans everywhere.
BaseballChannel.TV will provide free look-ins of each Dice-K vs. Ichiro meeting, starting with the game's opening pitch to the Mariners' leadoff batter soon after the cry of "Play Ball!"
The remarkable irony of the first pitches he makes in his new home going to an old countryman rival is not lost on Dice-K.
"Ever since he left Japan to go to the Majors," Matsuzaka said, "he is someone I've wanted to face again.
"For that reason, I'm very, very much looking forward to it."
He may be looking forward to it a bit more than is Suzuki, who hit a weak .235 (8-for-34) against Dice-K in their two mutual seasons in Japan prior to the outfielder's 2001 graduation to Seattle.
Nonetheless, Ichiro had reflected on the inevitable meeting a couple of weeks ago: "It's something to look forward to and something the both of us want to give to the Japanese fans. ... So that we can put on a good show for them."
Of course, they have not been strangers to each other since their careers diverged. Building on a friendship developed during their contributions to Japan's championship in last year's inaugural World Baseball Classic, the two have stayed in touch.
In fact, one of Dice-K's prized souvenirs from the WBC experience is an Ichiro uniform given to him as a present. The two also met socially this winter prior to the openings of their respective Spring Training camps.
Their next meeting will be a little less social. It's for keeps, and for mental keepsakes. And you won't miss a pitch.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.