Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Game Report: Tokyo Big 6 All-Star Game in Matsuyama's Botchan Stadium, Ehime Prefecture

After taking a train to Hokkaido and walking to the Sapporo Dome from my friend's place (spurning the normal option of flying to Hokkaido and taking the subway from wherever), I figured I should also try a new and interesting way to travel to Matsuyama for the Tokyo Big 6 game, so I took the Setonai ferry from Hiroshima to Matsuyama. Here's an English pamphlet about it; the one I rode was the slower 3200-yen "cruise ferry":

This ship was nuts and had tons of amenities; the inside airconditioned passenger lounge featured tons of chairs and couches and tables, a food counter that sold hot food as well as snacks and ice cream and drinks and games and souvenirs and such; a family room with toys and climbing things for kids to play on; an upstairs with a massage chair room and also a tatami room AND also an "amusement" room with some videogames and slot machines, as well as decks on both sides of the ship with chairs and tables and such. I would totally recommend this ferry if you're thinking of going to Shikoku; it's even really convenient in Hiroshima, the streetcar goes to the port terminal in about 25 minutes from the main Hiroshima station.

Take a look at this lounge...

...and take a slightly CLOSER look at the TV over the big dinner table...

Yes, the ship broadcast BS1 on their TVs, and crazier, my Saturday afternoon ferry ride from 11:15am to 13:55pm was the EXACT same time as the Friday night 7pm Mariners-Twins game in Seattle, so I watched about half of that when I wasn't otherwise occupied wandering around the boat. The Twins won 6-3 and Ichiro got two hits and that's all BS1 seemed concerned with in their Japanese voiceovering. Also, "Tuiasosopo" and other names look really funny in katakana.

(See? The sidestory about the boat was at least partially baseball-related.)

It took about an hour to get from the Matsuyama port to my hotel in Matsuyama city; I checked in and then found my way to Botchan Stadium to meet up with my friends and see some college baseball.

Botchan Stadium, outside, as seen when coming from Ichitsubo Station

Botchan Stadium, inside, from behind home plate.

A friend I know from watching Big 6 ball in Tokyo, and a friend of hers, came down for this game, and they got there earlier than me and saved seats in the front row of the Keio-Hosei-Rikkio side. I threw my stuff down on a seat, looked out on the field and Hosei's Hiroshi Taki was out there playing catch with another guy, and I blurted out "Ah, Taki-kun da!" and he looked up and saw me and smiled and waved! That was nice. A little while later when some other guys came out I saw Kazuki Mishima (pitcher for Hosei, we both have May 7th birthdays) and yelled "Mishi!! Ganbare!!" at him and he also looked up with a "whoa! what are you doing here!" and waved. Sadly, though, when I yelled to Kisho Kagami, my favorite college player, he didn't notice at all :( Though he seemed REALLY focused on his pregame routine, I don't think I saw him look out to the stands or acknowledge anyone, so I shouldn't feel too bad, I guess.

I should probably stop and explain what this is all about, since "Keio-Hosei-Rikkio side" might have sounded a little weird. Basically, this was an all-star game to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Botchan Stadium, so the 6 universities were split up into two sides, 3 universities to a side, as "Team Botchan" being Keio, Hosei, and Rikkio, and "Team Madonna" being Waseda, Meiji, and Tokyo. (Botchan and Madonna are a reference to the novel Botchan by Soseki Natsume, which I totally wouldn't know if I wasn't a junior high school teacher). This is actually not as lopsided as it seems, believe it or not; the best of the Tokyo players are probably good enough to be spare parts on the other teams' benches, and due to other teams's strengths and weaknesses in terms of hitting, fielding, and pitching, it really did work out okay.

(Rosters here in Japanese, though all the names except one will come out in my boxscore...)

So yeah, I spent a little while wandering around the stadium after that; went behind home plate and said hi to some Meiji players warming up, Nakamura and Araki; my friend with her real camera took some photos and I went off wandering...

View of the stadium from the top of the 3rd-base side lower seats. The upper deck was closed at that time; it opened in the 1st or 2nd inning of the game when the entire lower deck filled up with people.

This is what the inside concourse looks like, all concrete. It reminds me of either Skymark Stadium or Hard-Off Eco Stadium in Niigata, with the construction.

Starting all the way at first base, they have metal reproductions of newspapers from summer and spring Koshiens going all the way to this year... these are from the 1950's.

Lots of people stopped to look at this one -- it's the 2006 one where Yuki Saitoh and Waseda Jitsugyo managed to win the summer tournament against Ma-kun and Komadai Tomakomai. It sounded like a lot of the locals came out to see Saitoh play in person.

Big table of Tokyo Big 6 goods, but aside from selling expensive (2000 yen!) wristbands of "Team Botchan" and "Team Madonna", all the other stuff like t-shirts and towels and folders and all are available back at Jingu; I was even WEARING my Big 6 t-shirt already. The game programs were actually available for free; I grabbed a whole bunch of them as souvenirs to bring back to other college ball fans here.

Came back to the side and saw the ouendan taking photos of each other. These are the Keio ouendan leaders and head cheerleader.

Something I found out is that the brass bands were actually not from the colleges, but from local high schools. My side had kids from Matsuyama Chuo HS, the other side were from Matsuyama Shogyo HS. The kids apparently had such a good time with the ouendan that several of them stormed Hosei ouendan leader Takahashi for autographs after the game, I heard.

A bit later, the players came out to take team photos and whatnot...

Team Botchan poses in front of their ouendan.

And some smaller posed photos. I'd love to see what these actually came out like for real, but I'm not sure whose sake they were taken for.

Keio's Takayuki Matsuo and Masahiro Nagasaki.

I met Nagasaki a few times back in the spring semester (and even rode the subway with him and Itoh once), and he's pretty much the nicest college ballplayer in existence, as far as I can tell. My friend and I yelled hello and goodluck to him, and he saw us and got a total surprised look on his face and took off his cap and bowed deeply to us! Then he came over and shouted up hello like "I can't believe you guys are here!" and my friend yelled back "You know we're crazy!"

So then she wanted to take a photo of him for the sake of another friend of ours who couldn't make it (who was, at that moment, at the Tokyo Dome texting us updates about the Intercity Baseball Tournament and how our former Big 6 favorites were doing). Nagasaki was like "a picture of just me? Wouldn't that be boring? Here, let me get someone else too," and so he tagged Matsuo, and that's how I ended up with that photo above. He's really adorable. For the rest of the game he kept coming out every inning to play catch with pitchers or warm up infielders, and he'd always stand right in front of us.

A bit later than that, both sides did pregame throwing. Here's our side...

and also, I had suspected all along that Kagami was going to be our starting pitcher, and seeing him come out and warm up with Takuya Hiromoto and with the team manager watching pretty much confirmed it:

Oh yeah, and ANOTHER pitcher and catcher were ALSO warming up on the side at the same time as Kagami and Hiromoto, in preparation for the ceremonial first pitch. At the time I didn't know who they were but took a photo anyway...

Pitcher Kana Sakamoto

Catcher Tomomi Nishi

Both women are from the "Matsuyama Madonna" women's baseball team, apparently, and played with the Team Japan that just won 1st place at the World Women's Baseball Championship. Nishi was even on the Best 9 for the tournament; she looks stronger than most of the Tokyo Big 6 guys, to be honest!

Here's a shot of the board after they announced the starting lineups.
I was right about Kagami. Amusingly, Shirakawa was named as the other team's catcher so everyone figured that was a setup for Yuki Saitoh to be starting pitcher, being as Shirakawa never catches much in Big 6 games but was Saitoh's catcher at Waseda Jitsugyo HS. HOWEVER, no, the starting pitcher for Team Madonna was Waseda's Yuya Fukui, who is actually from Ehime prefecture and went to Saibi High School, so he's a local boy; another local boy in this game was Waseda's Koji Udaka, who went to Ehime's Imabari Nishi HS, batting third and playing third base.

Lined up for the national anthem.

Meiji's Yamaguchi swings at the ceremonial first pitch. (It was a fastball and he ACTUALLY swung and missed. None of this "throws like a girl" stuff.)

Sakamoto and Kagami bow to each other, exchanging the pitcher's mound.

Anyway... here's my boxscore from the game itself. I tried to include which college and uniform number and all kinds of stuff, but I realize it's probably a little confusing, sorry:

(Meiji, Waseda, Tokyo) Madonna 1 - 4 Team Botchan (Keio, Hosei, Rikkio)
Saturday, August 28, 2010

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Madonna 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 10 1
Botchan 1 0 0 0 0 0 3 0 x 4 9 1

Madonna AB R H RB K BB SB SH E 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
M-4 Yamaguchi, 2b 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 G6 .. f9 .. .. .. .. .. ..
T-5 Utsumi, ph-2b 3 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .. .. .. .. .. G6 .. S9 F3
T-7 Iwasaki, ss 2 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 S7 .. KS .. .. .. .. .. ..
W-2 Matsunaga, ss 2 0 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 .. .. .. .. .. S7 .. S7 ..
W-5 Udaka, 3b 3 0 1 0 1 1 0 0 1 G6 .. .. BB .. S8 .. KC ..
M-3 Shashiki, dh 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 F7 .. .. f5 .. .. .. .. ..
W-25 T.Yamada, dh 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .. .. .. .. .. G5 .. G5 ..
M-8 Nakamura, cf 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 .. G4 .. G6 .. .. .. .. ..
M-25 Yajima, ph-rf 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 .. .. .. .. .. .. G4 .. HP
M-6 Araki, lf 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .. L4 .. G4 .. .. .. .. ..
T-8 Kihara, ph-cf 2 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 .. .. .. .. .. .. KS .. KS
T-23 Tachi, 1b 2 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 .. S9 .. .. KS .. .. .. ..
W-8 Gotoh, 1b 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 .. .. .. .. .. .. KS .. F9
T-1 Horiguchi, rf 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .. F8 .. .. .. .. .. .. ..
W-24 Habu, ph-rf-lf 3 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 .. .. .. .. S4 .. .. G6 S7
W-26 Shirakawa, c 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 .. .. KS .. .. .. .. .. ..
T-6 Tanaka, ph-c 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .. .. .. .. G6 .. .. .. ..
M-10 Yamauchi, c 2 0 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 .. .. .. .. .. .. .. S4 S7

Botchan AB R H RB K BB SB SH E 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
R-5 K.Matsumoto, 2b 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 G4 .. G3 .. F9 .. .. .. ..
K-10 Yumoto, 2b 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 .. .. .. .. .. .. KS .. ..
H-9 Nakao, cf 1 1 0 0 0 2 2 0 0 BB .. BB .. F7 .. .. .. ..
R-10 Tanaka, cf 1 1 1 2 0 0 0 0 0 .. .. .. .. .. .. H9 .. ..
H-39 Taki, ss 2 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 S9 .. BB .. G6 .. .. .. ..
K-5 Fuchigami, ss 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .. .. .. .. .. .. E5 .. ..
K-9 Itoh, rf 4 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 F8 .. KS .. .. G4 S7 .. ..
K-23 Yamaguchi, dh 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 BB .. G3 .. .. .. .. .. ..
H-5 Kameda, ph-dh 2 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 .. .. .. .. .. F8 S9 .. ..
K-22 Matsuo, 3b 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 G6 .. .. F8 .. .. .. .. ..
R-1 Okazaki, 3b 2 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .. .. .. .. .. D7 G5 .. ..
R-29 R.Maeda, 1b 2 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 .. S4 .. KS .. .. .. .. ..
H-10 Ohyagi, 1b 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 .. .. .. .. .. F2 .. KS ..
H-20 Hiromoto, c 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 .. KS .. .. .. .. .. .. ..
K-2 Nagasaki, c 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .. .. .. G3 .. .. .. .. ..
R-27 Y.Maeda, c 2 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .. .. .. .. .. .. D7 L4 ..
R-28 Hasegawa, lf 2 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .. F8 .. .. S7 .. .. .. ..
H-27 Imamura, pr-lf 2 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 0 .. .. .. .. .. .. KC S9 ..

W-11 Fukui 3 1 1 2 4 2 0 0
W-1 Ohishi 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0
T-29 Katori 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0
T-10 Maeda 1 0 0 1 0 0 1 0
M-11 Nomura 1 3 2 4 0 2 0 1
M-21 Nishijima 1 0 0 1 0 1 0 0

H-19 Kagami 2 0 0 2 0 0 0 0
K-19 Takeuchi 2 0 0 0 1 2 0 0
R-19 Okabe 1 0 0 1 0 1 0 0
K-11 Tanaka 1 0 0 2 0 0 0 0
R-13 Komuro 1 0 0 0 0 2 0 0
K-17 Fukutani 1 0 0 3 0 1 0 0
H-13 Mishima 1 1 1 2 1 1 0 0

The official one is up here on the Big 6 website.

I don't have a lot to say about the game itself. It was fun to be back at a Big 6 game, though surreal singing the cheers with the various colleges (ie, there'd be a Meiji guy pitching to a Hosei guy and we'd be singing Dash Dash Keio). Keio's cheers were mostly dominating the side I was on, and we did the Keio fight song a lot more than the other two, but whatever, it was fun, and they DID win the league in the spring so I suppose they're Allowed.

Koji Udaka, for all his local-boy-ness, was pretty slow at 3rd base; he got charged with one actual error, and then also just was totally phoning it in on a lot of plays he could have made, especially going after foul balls.

For all that I talk up Hayata Itoh, he was the only other guy who stayed in the entire game, and aside from basically making Yuya Fukui throw him like 12 pitches in one at-bat, he wasn't particularly impressive at the plate. Maybe it's because his team had no need for Mr. Clutch to be clutch for once.

Kisho Kagami pitched the first two innings for our side... and he gave up only two hits... both to Tokyo University batters! Argh!

Amusingly, the first three pitchers for our side are all #19; Kagami, Takeuchi, and Okabe.

Rikkio's captain Soichiro Tanaka was the only person to hit a homerun, though his was a particularly huge one to right field to get 2 runs. It was off Yusuke Nomura, which was also odd as I'd consider Nomura the best or 2nd-best of the guys who threw for Team Madonna (Ohishi might be the best, Nomura second, then Nishijima and Fukui tied, with Maeda and Katori bringing up the rear). I suppose I could joke that batters from Saga prefecture have always been Nomura's weakness...

The Jingu radar gun always has Ohishi and Mishima hitting around 154 km/h there, but both guys were topping out at 146-147 at Botchan, which makes me wonder what their REAL top speed is. Probably somewhere in the middle, which is still around 93 mph and not bad. Mishi wasn't having the best game of his life either and gave up the only run of the game for the other side.

By the way, I may note that almost every single player on both rosters played in this game. And all captains played except one as well. Can you guess who the one player/captain who didn't appear was?

Yeah, it was Saitoh Yuki. I'm wondering how many Ehime locals went home pissed off that they came all the way out to Botchan to see him play, and then all he did during the game was coach first base for an inning. I hear he pitched a complete game a few days before, so didn't pitch in this one, but I'm honestly a little surprised it worked out that way given how they seem to be trying to milk him as the face of the league as much as possible until he graduates.

Oh yeah, and..

Nagasaki caught for one inning of Takeuchi, and also for Okabe and Keio's Tanaka, before giving way to Rikkio's Maeda, and didn't really do much impressive in the game. But he did come out and throw between all other innings. I'm hoping this picture of the twilight sky prints out well so I can give it to him next time I see him.

So yeah, the game ended with Team Botchan winning 4-1:

And a lot of bowing:

The game heroes were Hosei's Taki for batting in the first run of the game in the first inning, and Rikkio's Tanaka for his 2-run homer:

After the game, my friend had a mission, which was to meet up with a kid named Ryuichi Ochi, who was an infielder for Meiji, and graduated last year. He's from Ehime so he came back here to work and play ball, and for this series since he was a local kid who knew the teams well he was doing the radio commentary for this Big 6 all-star game. So we found him and my friend gave him a bag full of snacks and sake and stuff. I don't really know why, but they seemed happy to see each other and chatted for a while; I mostly hung around and listened, since I only remember him playing because his name is annoying for me to write :) He was nice enough to me though (I think a bunch of the Meiji team knows me as "the crazy gaijin friend", since several others have also kind of been like "hey I know who you are" and I can't think of any other reason).

And then we went back to Ichitsubo station, next to the stadium, which is nicknamed "No-boru" station in honor of Masaoka Shiki, the famous author who originally made up the Japanese words for baseball things, including calling it "yakyu". His name was originally Noboru, and so the station is a pun on that, being as the kanji 野 can be pronounced "no", and 球 is literally a ball, or "boru". They also have a museum about him and the early days of baseball in Matsuyama, but it was closed when we were there, sadly.


And as if you thought this entry was finished with the end of the ballgame and me going home, well wait, there's more. Consider this your bonus for being the only person to actually read this entire thing...

The next day before heading across Shikoku as part of my zenken seiha (quest to go to every prefecture in Japan), I stopped at Matsuyama Castle because I figured, as long as I'm here in Matsuyama, I should see it, it's one of the oldest castles in Japan with a lot of remaining original buildings from 400 years ago.

Well, you would NEVER believe who I ran into outside the castle:

Yes -- those are the Tokyo, Keio, and Hosei ouendan leaders. I ran into them and the other Big 6 fans I'd been at the game with and got this photo, since I happened to have my towel with me. Let me tell you that this is a photo that is pretty freaking rare -- three opposing college ouendan leaders together, from 3 of the most elite schools in the country, with a gaijin baseball fan, in front of one of the few original castles in Japan.

I talked to the Hosei guy a bit; I've actually met him before but he forgot, but I name-dropped my Hosei alumni friends who usually drag me into the cheering section and he's like "Oh! Well, please come cheer with us again in the fall, we'll be waiting for you!"

And in more of the "baseball follows me everywhere", after I left the castle and was trying to find my way to the station, I ended up following an older guy who works as a volunteer tourism type... and is a Carp fan. So we chatted about Friday's game some more.

I'm psyched that college ball will start again soon, but sad that the general baseball season is over in a month.

Now, off to the toshitaiko with me -- and tomorrow starts work again. Hooray.


Patrick said...

I learned something new from this post -- I had seen something on TV years ago about Masaoka Shiki, but long forgotten his name. I remembered him as "the Noboru guy".

Deanna said...

Oh, same here, really. He's in the Hall of Fame here and I learned about him at some point, but had completely forgotten he exists until I was in Matsuyama, basically. But then a whole bunch of his stuff is all over, including a haiku carved in rock outside Matsuyama station, and the No-Boru station as well.

Ken D. said...

Sounds like the trip was a blast!

Quick question - Is the Intercity tournament played with metal bats? I assume so, but don't know for sure. Or perhaps a better question is "Does anyone other than NPB play with wood bats?"

Also, Botchan Kyujo looks really nice, at least the field. And I had to do a double-take on the TV pic...thought it was either Safeco or I was seeing things.

(Personal note: This would have been my weekend in SEA for Safeco. Oh well).

These trips are great. You are crazy, though! :)

Deanna said...

Intercity is played with wooden bats as far as I know. So is college ball. I'm pretty sure that it's only up through high school that they use metal bats here.

That TV picture IS of Safeco. I said below it that I watched the Mariners-Twins game on BS1 on the ship?

Ken D. said...

Yes, I know it was Safeco. I never quite express myself well. As I was reading I got to the picture and my brain was like "Safeco Field?" It was only then that I read the description below it about the M's game.