|The shoes come off at Japanese baseball games just like they do before you walk into a Japanese home.|
Eighteen baseball seasons ago I had the unique opportunity
to attend a professional baseball game in
Kazuhiro Kiyohara was the slugger at the time for the Lions and the fans were cheering for him to hit a home run. Not once, but continually throughout every one of Kiyohara’s at bats during the game the mantra continued. Hence, the cheer became forever imprinted on my brain.
Fast forward to 2007 and a trip I made to
We arrived at the game without tickets and purchased
outfield seats at the walk-up window. As we proceeded to the area in which we
could sit we discovered that everyone around us was a Rakuten
Eagles fan (the team the Lions were playing that day). Sitting in the visitor’s
section would not do. (Large numbers of visiting fans attend away games in
Just as we were wondering what to do to get a seat before the game was to begin a Japanese lady (we were the only non-Japanese people there out of the tens of thousands in attendance) appears out of nowhere and asks if she can help us. I respond that it doesn’t look like there are any places left to sit. She tells us to follow her. I’m thinking that she is an usher or something when she then informs me that she would be honored if we would sit with her family even though it might be tight. I gladly thank her and say that would be wonderful. She apologizes that it is in the front row. “All the better,” I respond and we proceed through the masses to the front row.
It turns out that she has a daughter the same age as my daughter. Maya is her daughter’s name and the two became friends through non-verbal communication by the end of the game and are now email pen pals. I should point out that Maya and her mom speak and understand only Japanese. My wife and kids can’t speak or understand Japanese either so all communication is being done through me in Japanese.
Anyway, the pregame particulars and top half of the first
inning proceed as in
|Non-stop cheering during the offensive side of the inning. Can you spot my two foreigner kids?|
Late in the game my wife was going to purchase some food
from the concession stands (as the mobile vendors in
Maya’s family was incredibly nice and hospitable. Not only did they split their seating space with us but they also shared their food with us, loaned us cheering devices and cushions, and gave my daughter a Seibu Lions jersey. I’ve been to hundreds of professional baseball games in the states and have never witnessed such kindness being offered to complete strangers.
The cheers haven’t changed much in the past eighteen years although the names have. The Lions’ star player these days is Alex Cabrera (Kaburera when rendered into Japanese). So his cheer, among many, this time went “ho-mu-ran, ho-mu-ran ka-bu-re-ra, ka-to-ba-se ka-bu-re-ra.” “Homu ran” is the Japanese rendering of the English “home run.” Hopefully, it will be less than 18 years before I can replace this cheer, which is now stuck in my head, with another by experiencing professional Japanese baseball, and especially their magnificent fans, yet again.
|This is what it looks like when your team is down by several runs late in the game. Contrast it to Major League Baseball games when at this point many fans have gone home and the rest are sitting on their hands wishing the game was over already.|