I went to a few games:
March 31: Lions vs. Fighters, Seibu Dome April 3: Marines vs. Fighters, Chiba Marine Stadium April 4: Waseda Univ vs. Saginomiya, Jingu (Industrial vs Big 6 tourney) April 4: Meiji Univ vs. JX-ENEOS, Jingu (Industrial vs Big 6 tourney) April 4: Marines vs. Fighters, Chiba Marine Stadium April 5: Swallows vs. Baystars, Jingu April 6: Swallows vs. Baystars, Jingu April 7: Fighters vs. Eagles, Kamagaya (minor-league) April 9: Swallows vs. Niigata Albirex, Toda (minor-league exhibition) April 9: Fighters vs. Eagles, Tokyo Dome April 10: Marines vs. Fighters, Lotte Urawa (minor-league) April 10: Fighters vs. Eagles, Tokyo Dome April 11: Fighters vs. Eagles, Tokyo Dome April 13: Hosei vs. Todai, Jingu (Tokyo Big 6) April 13: Rikkio vs. Keio, Jingu (Tokyo Big 6) April 14: Buffaloes vs. Fighters, Hotto Motto Kobe
I guess 16 games in 16 days isn't bad, especially given that some days I didn't go to games at all (either they didn't exist, or got rained out, or one day my best friend and I went to see The Sound of Music at the Shiki theater, which was a whole new experience for me)
Anyway, I dunno if I'll get around to posting entries about all of these (Kozo actually used some of my photos from the Swallows-Albirex game here since I also saw the craziness of utility man Masayoshi Miwa getting a ni-gun workout at catcher) but some highlights of things that happened:
- I got a new Fighters uniform made since my Imanari one is out of date thanks to him getting traded to Hanshin last year. This time I got a home jersey of Yohei Kagiya, who just got drafted this year out of Chuo. I was a fan of his in college AND high school, he's from Hokkaido, and he's awesome. The uniform shop did a rush job and I had it ready to wear for the 3 games at Tokyo Dome. Showed up expecting to be the only person with a custom Kagiya kanji uniform... and there was another person in my group with one. Go figure. So now we're BFFs, I made her a photo book of Kagiya photos from Chuo and she's sending me some newspapers from Sapporo.
- I got to see Kagiya's first pro win in Kobe on what was one of the most awesome roadtrips ever. I went on a whim, took a night bus down, met up with some friends, it was Blue Wave throwback weekend, we took a ton of random photos, I said hi to Brian Wolfe, but even better I got a signed card from Hiroshi Kisanuki, who apparently gives them out at games, he personally signs and numbers each one, that's very cool of him. Oh yeah, and the Fighters won after hitting like 5 home runs.
- Thanks to the throwback weekend, the Orix fans were doing old chants (like Ichiro's song for Itoi), so we did too. Among the old songs we did were Yukio Tanaka, Atsushi Kataoka, Tatsuro Hirose, Tatsuya Ide, Yutaka Nakamura (that later was Keizo Kawashima), Jerry Brooks, and Tsutomu Ishimoto. And those are just the ones I remember. The stupid thing is that I could tell who the songs were for, but they were just old enough (the 1996-1997 period) that I didn't necessarily know the songs themselves, except maybe Yukio and Ide, since those guys were still around in 2003 for my first Fighters game.
- I also doctored my old Fighters Imanari #62 uniform by buying felt at the 100-yen shop and making a "MOLLEKEN" to put over it, since Dustin Molleken is wearing #62 for the Fighters now. This amused the crap out of most of my friends. But even crazier, when I went to the Kamagaya game on the 7th, not only was Molleken there and pitching (he did 1 inning, 3 batters, 3 K) but I ended up sitting with his girlfriend for half the game, she's here from Canada, and of course everyone's like "do you know the other white girl?" so I just went up and started talking to her, and she was like "nice uniform!" After the game she introduced me to Dustin so I even got to show him the uniform and he thought it was cool too (like "I bet that's the only one out there")
- I got a bunch of the Fighters ni-gun guys to sign my new uniform at Urawa. Yay. Also some of my friends got interviewed by Fuji TV about "Ohtani Fever". I did not. Probably the TV people figure I can't speak Japanese. Also Makoto Kaneko was batting 1st and playing 2nd base at ni-gun. Kinda crazy.
- I MET SHINGO KAWABATA before the Swallows-Albirex game. My only vague regret is not having my jersey with me to get him to sign. I got to the game over an hour early, saw Shingo there talking to a coach and someone else, and I did a double-take, and walked by, and then did another double-take (he actually was looking at me kinda funny anyway), and realized I might not ever get another chance at this, so I got my courage up and went over like (in super-polite Japanese) "Mr. Kawabata, I know it might be rude of me, but I'm a huge huge huge fan, can I get a photo with you?" He smiled like "...sure?" and the coach took the picture and afterwards I talked to him a little, I asked if he was going to play in the game and he said no, but when I told him I was so worried when he got injured he said not to worry and that he's doing his best to heal up, and I told him I'll be waiting to see him play at ichi-gun again and he smiled and I thanked him again and went away. He's so tall and he really is as adorable and sweet as I thought he'd be in person. I wonder how he would have reacted if I *did* have my crazy custom Kawabata jersey with me :) Either way, it was the highlight of my trip.
- I saw my Niigata Albirex buddies but didn't have time to talk to them since I had to bolt for the Fighters Tokyo Dome games. Alas. I did say hi to Tomoshi Aoki at least.
- The Baystars have keychains for Mishima and Kagami so now I have those. I didn't get to see either of them in person this trip though :(
- "My" Hosei pitcher this year is Kazuki Funamoto. I mean, I'd already told him last year that he was "the next Kagami" for me, but Mishima was still "mine" last year. Anyway, Funamoto pitched a good game against Todai and I talked to him after the game and gave him Easter candy and stuff, said I'll be cheering for him from afar this year. He's very sweet personality-wise and I also think his skin has cleared up a lot in the last year or two because I didn't remember him being quite as cute as he is now. Good for him :)
- Oh yeah, and I got a Hosei Fall 2012 championship towel. It came indirectly from Mishima, even, he gave it to my friend last fall and she gave it to me at the industrial league game this time. It's big and orange and awesome.
- Speaking of the industrial league games, so we got to see all our favorite recent grads play for ENEOS, like Ren Yamasaki and Masato Komuro, and Tomoya Mikami pitched too. Good times. Sachiya Yamasaki pitched 3 great innings for Meiji, too. He's getting better and better and better. As for the Waseda-Saginomiya game, the highlights for me were a freshman Waseda submarine pitcher named Kazuya Yoshino, and a goofball catcher for Saginomiya named Tomoya Okada.
- While I'm not part of "Ohtani Fever", I will note that I saw him make a few good plays in the outfield, and that thanks to him I had to pay 800 yen for the Fighters Rookie Edition card set. Grr :)
- OH! How can I forget that I saw Alex Ramirez's 2000th hit? That was super-exciting. It was a rainy Saturday afternoon at Jingu, we figured the game would get called after Rami's at-bat in the 6th, but then he lined a HR into the left-field stands and the game went on to have the Baystars win. Oops. Anyway, there was a bit of a to-do, they put up a thingy on the scoreboard about the 2000th hit, Miyamoto gave Rami-chan a bouquet, there was a plaque, lots of photo-taking, and then the game continued.
(and that evening we had a bloggers meetup which Westbay took a video interview during which was kind of embarrassing but whatever)
I think that's it for now. I'll add to this if I think of anything more.