CHIBA – Now that I have had a chance to rest a little, I am feeling a bit more clear headed. Again, a great big “thank you” to the Marines staff. I was lucky enough to have a chance to go to the dugout yesterday and say my final good byes (but only sort of because I sent and said good bye after the game too…oh well).
Below: This is what it looks like from the bench in the afternoon before a game. I just missed an interview with Tsuyoshi Nishioka when I arrived. Since this was the last game before the All Star Game and only a few days away from the start of the Olympics, there were a lot of camera crews and reporters.
I saw a lot of familiar faces amongst the TV crews. There were people from Fuji TV, sports papers, and many other media outlets. It was seriously scorching hot on the field yesterday so I have a lot of respect for the journalists and their patience. It really takes a certain kind of person to go get a story day after day no matter what the weather has in store.
It was great to see members of Team Japan out practicing before the game. The Marines players must have no clue who I am and why I am there… but it was nice to watch things unfold on the field. Here is a picture of Satozaki out at practice yesterday (and you can also see Saburo in the background getting ready to catch).
Satozaki, Naruse, and Nishioka adorn the cover of the Marines magazine this week. They are on the cover with an image of the Japanese flag in the background. There aren’t any home games at Marine Stadium before the 13th so I was really, really fortunate to be able to catch these guys before they head off to the Beijing Olympics.
Coach Frank Ramppen had to fill me in about Monday’s game and to explain why Ohmatsu was being greeted like a rock star. I had no idea how amazingly well Shouitsu Ohmatsu (no. 10) has been doing this season but he hits when it counts. He has had a lot of great hits. For example, he hit a three-run homer on Monday after the Rakuten Eagles were up 3-0. According to his profile, he played in 77 games in the 2007 season and this year he has already played in 94. At the rate he is hitting you can bet to see him in a lot more.
Yay! I got a picture with Frank. If you ever see him riding his bike around the Makuhari area, just remember that he is one of the nicest foreigners around town. I met his wife (gorgeous!) and his kids (soooooo cute!!) last night during the game. Really, really nice family. It’s been a pleasure helping translate/interpret for them during my time in Chiba City. I hope that they enjoy the rest of their stay in Japan.
Though you can only see the back of Larry, you know that he is hard at work. If you are a foreigner, group of foreigners etc. who love watching baseball and want to come out to a game, he is the person to get in contact with. It can be a bit challenging trying to figure out how to buy tickets or box seats etc. through the Japanese ticket-buying system but Larry is the expert and can help you sort things out. I really hope that more people will come out and experience the fun at Marine Stadium, especially in the summer. The fireworks are a blast and so is the dancing at the end of the evening outside the stadium. Many of the games are also sponsored so you may have a chance to walk away with prizes.