URL Change

Thanks for coming to the site. I’ve been in operation for just over a year, and have decided it’s time to operate with a proper domain name and host. This site will not be updated anymore, however, this information will remain up for the remainder of 2015.

HTENBanner

The new site is really easy to remember: www.thehanshintigers.com

Please stop by the new site, bookmark it, subscribe to it, and enjoy all the new and exciting content I hope to put up there. Also, feel free to check in on me at the same places as before:

Facebook – Hanshin Tigers English News

Twitter – @thehanshintiger

Podcast – Subscribe on iTunes

See you at the new site!

Monthly Tigers Magazine – August 2015

The August edition hit the stands today. My copy arrived in the mail last night. It came with five player cards: Shintaro Fujinami, Akira Iwamoto, Mauro Gomez, Shunsukeand legendary import Randy Bass. Each of the next 3 issues will come with 5 more cards.

2015AugustCoverHere is the table of contents for this issue:

  • Opening feature: Breaking Free from the CL Pack!
  • Interview: Masayuki Kakefu – Ultra Summer Exhibit
  • Close-up Interview: Kosuke Fukudome
  • Another Side View: Fukudome
  • Pinstripe Report: Muddled CL Summer
  • Tigers’ Diary: Masayuki Kakefu (Part 2 of 2)
  • Players’ Note: Yuto Morikoshi
  • Diary Interview: Ryota Arai
  • Ex-Tigers Questionnaire #3
  • Mazda All-Star Game Report
  • Tigers Farm Report
  • Take Care of my Son: Yuya Yokoyama
  • Tigers Data Analysis
  • Short Q & A: Koki Moriya
  • Teammates Talk About: Fumiya Araki
  • Advice Column: Katsuo Hirata

As always, if any of these really interest you and you’d like an English translation (or summary), drop your request in the comments section! I can’t promise anything but I’ll do what I can!

Great Day to Be Me!

I got to Koshien Stadium around 11am, despite not having a ticket to tonight’s game or even the intention of attending. And I didn’t. But I did get to take in the Koshien Stadium Museum for the first time ever, and followed it up with a tour of the stadium that included a chance to watch some of the team’s pre-game practice. I got to meet up with one of my Tiger buddies who was in town from Tokyo, spent the day with my awesome wife… and then the Tigers won their game tonight! Not a bad day overall! Here are some pics/explanations of what I got to see today.

 

Nothing really special here, just a big Tigers logo in the middle of the museum.

  

Towards the end of the museum, you can head outside and stand right in the middle of the center field stands. what a view! Great weather, too!

  

The Tigers drafted me as their official English tweeter! Ha, I wish!

  

Love the 80th Anniversary banners. The 4th one here is #4, Gene Bacque.

  

At the start of the tour, we got a view of the visitors’ indoor training facility. It felt like we were at the zoo, looking at a bunch of rabbits through a glass window. Do not feed the animals. Do not tap the glass.

  

Gomez and Murton take theoir cuts during an early afternoon batting practice.

 

Any news is good news today…

Those of you who watched the game today probably wish you hadn’t. The Tigers got shellacked and are showing few signs of life in July. (More in the next series recap.)

I just “discovered” a Twitter account (mine is @thehanshintiger, follow me!) that reports on activity down at Naruohama, where the farm team plays and practices. Here are two tweets from today that deserve our attention. They might even lift our spirits a little!

Tsuyoshi Nishioka has resumed swinging a bat since July 7th. He has been on the disabled list with a right elbow injury. He went over his swing today at the indoor facility at Naruohama, and then worked on rehabbing afterwards. He aims to make a comeback and continues to train steadily.


 

Western League: Orix 8, Hanshin 2. New foreigner Perez was the only one on the team to record two hits off Yoshida, and now has an average of .368. It seems unlikely that he’ll get a promotion to the big club (due to the import limitation) but he’s busting his butt anyways.

Monthly Tigers Magazine – July 2015

The July edition hit the stands today. My copy arrived in the mail last night. It came with five player cards: Randy Messenger, Akihito Fujii, Hiroki Uemoto, Yamatoand legendary pitcher Yutaka Enatsu. Each of the next 4 issues will come with 5 more cards.

2015julycoverHere is the table of contents for this issue:

  • Opening feature: Views/Fans from Interleague
  • Close-up Interview: Shintaro Fujinami
  • Another Side View: Fujinami
  • Pinstripe Report: Breaking out of the Win-Lose Cycle
  • A Special Message From: Masaaki Koyama
  • Tigers’ Diary: Masayuki Kakefu (Part 1 of 2?)
  • Players’ Note: Fumiya Araki
  • Tigers Farm Report
  • Take Care of my Son: Taiga Egoshi
  • Tigers Data Analysis
  • Short Q & A: Kai Ueda
  • Teammates Talk About: Shoya Yamamoto
  • Advice Column: Katsuo Hirata

As always, if any of these really interest you and you’d like an English translation (or summary), drop your request in the comments section! I can’t promise anything but I’ll do what I can!

Coming Soon to a Stadium Near You…

I know these are far from perfect but I’m thinking of doing a cleaner copy of these and turning them into a T-shirt. Any buyers if I make them?

Sorry Gomez looks like the Hulk and I couldn't quite get the yellow color just right. I'll work on it...

Sorry Gomez looks like the Hulk and I couldn’t quite get the yellow color just right. I’ll work on it…

UeponBack

I might make Uemoto’s name bigger and possibly just in English. Should I add profile information (b-day, etc.)?

Happy Birthday to… (Part 2)

9murton2015It’s been awhile since I did a birthday shoutout to a player on here. That one was for my favorite player, Matt Murton. This one is a shoutout to ME! Yes, I turned 40 yesterday. And I ranted about the Tigers’ 15-1 loss on Saturday and said I would NOT watch the game Sunday for fear of a loss (and what a loss – 10-1 this time!), and had some scathing words for some of the players, including #9.

Well you’ll never guess what happened to me today. I had agreed to meet a friend of mine for coffee in Sannomiya (downtown Kobe) after work, since I get off early on Mondays. I asked him if we could go to Starbucks, simply because I had a craving. So he got there a little earlier than me, chose the location he thought would have the most open seats (the Starbuckses in Sannomiya seem to always be full), and texted me to let me know the location.

I got there around 4pm, got in line, ordered my drink, turned around and saw… who else but Matt Murton himself, standing in line for his own beverage! My buddy was seated kind of behind where Matt was standing, and pointed in a less-than-subtle way to make sure I didn’t miss the tall, muscular redhead with 3-or-so days of stubble standing in line in a green t-shirt and military-print shorts. Nope, not gonna miss that!

T: “Enjoying your day off?”

MM: "Yeah."

T: “Or is it a day off? No practice today?”

MM: "No, we got the full day off."

T: “Nice. Guess the whole team could use a breather after the rough weekend…”

MM: "Yeah."

T: “Well, take it easy.”

THE END.

He gets to the counter, places his order, takes two coffees out of the store, and walks down the road, presumably to a car with a wife in it?

And I went back to my seat, kind of shaking, kind of sweating, but definitely grinning. I *knew* I would meet him this year, I just knew it! But who would have thought it would be at a Starbucks on a Monday afternoon while we both waited in line for coffee?

The more I thought about it, the more I second-guessed every moment of the encounter. Should I have introduced myself by name? Should I have told him about the blog? Asked for an autograph? A picture? Should I have told him it was my birthday? Or that his birthday is the same day as my son’s? Should I have been a little more enthusiastic about the whole thing? Did I really have to remind him about the bad weekend the team had? (Not to mention he was benched for 2 days – at least I didn’t remind him of THAT.)

The whole thing was surreal… and as I said to another friend of mine via LINE a few minutes later: “I’m kinda choked that I didn’t ‘get’ anything but the experience, the thrill and the memory. No signature, no proof of the encounter.”

But does it matter? Would my life be better if I had snapped a picture with my phone? If I had his signature on a napkin (or my Tigers’ membership card, which was in my wallet)? Not really, right? In fact, in some ways this is better because it’s just between me, my buddy and Matt Murton. A brief, “private” moment in the middle of the world’s most popular coffee chain, in the middle of the closest big city to Koshien Stadium. A memory. And that’s good enough for me. Happy birthday, Matt Murton fan!

(Thank God for the timing, being in the right Starbucks, and for him also having a craving for coffee at the same time as I did!)

Monthly Tigers Magazine – June 2015

2015juneposter

The June edition hit the stands on Monday, but I decided it was time to become a subscriber instead of buying it at the newsstand every week. So mine arrived last night. It came with five player cards: Atsushi Nohmi, Yuya Andoh, Kentaro Sekimoto, Matt Murton and legendary catcher Koichi Tabuchi. Each of the next 5 issues will come with 5 more cards. Looking forward to reading this issue, as it has a lot of really interesting features!

Here is the table of contents for this issue:

  • Opening feature: Ultra Golden Week @ Koshien
  • Close-up Interview: Minoru Iwata
  • Another Side View: Iwata
  • Pinstripe Report: Searching for Ways to Move Up
  • Tigers’ Diary: Randy Bass
  • Players’ Note: Ryutaro Umeno
  • Best Nine in Tigers’ History (as chosen by Tigers OB)
  • Pop’N Talk – Travis Mikihisa Samura
  • Tigers Farm Report
  • Take Care of my Son – Koki Moriya
  • Tigers Data Analysis
  • Short Q & A – Yuya Yokoyama
  • Teammates Talk About – Akihito Fujii
  • Advice Column – Katsuo Hirata

Once again, if any of these really interest you and you’d like an English translation (or summary), let me know! I can’t promise anything but I’ll do what I can!

Pacific League at a Glance

Interleague play begins today! If you are like me, you may not know a whole lot about the teams the Tigers will be facing over the next three weeks. Here is a brief look at each of them, in schedule order:

Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles

EaglesJoined NPB in: 2005

Also Known Simply As: Rakuten Eagles

Located in: Sendai, Miyagi

Won Championships in: 2013

Current Record (rank): 20-23-2 (5th)

Managed by: Hiromoto “Dave” Okubo

Top Hitter 2015 (avg): Ginji Akaminai (.318)

Top Pitcher 2015 (ERA): Takahiro Shiomi (2.19)

Other Notable Players (position): Kazuo Matsui (MLB returnee), Yuki Matsui (0.43 ERA, 10 saves), Kazuya Fujita (2014 Best 9)

Face Tigers on (where): May 26-28 (Koshien Stadium)

Saitama Seibu Lions

LionsJoined NPB in: 1950

Previously Known as: Nishitetsu Clippers (1950), Nishitetsu Lions (1951-1972), Taiheiyo Club Lions (1973-1976), Crown Lighter Lions (1977-1978), Seibu Lions (1979-2007)

Located in: Tokorozawa, Saitama

Won Championships in: 1956, 1957, 1958, 1982, 1983, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1990, 1991, 1992, 2004, 2008

Current Record (rank): 24-20-2 (3rd)

Managed by: Norio Tanabe

Top Hitter 2015 (avg): Shogo Akiyama (.346)

Top Pitcher 2015 (ERA): Kazuhisa Makita (2.14)

Other Notable Players (position): Takeya Nakamura (11 HR, 42 RBI so far), Hideto Asamura (.325 avg), Ernesto Mejia (2014 Best 9), Tomomi Takahashi (0.95 ERA, 14 SV)

Face Tigers on (where): May 29-31 (Seibu Dome)

Chiba Lotte Marines

MarinesJoined NPB in: 1950

Previously Known as: Mainichi Orions (1950-1957), Mainichi Daiei Orions (1958-1963), Tokyo Orions (1964-1968), Lotte Orions (1969-1991)

Located in: Chiba City, Chiba

Won Championships in: 1950, 1974, 2005, 2010

Current Record (rank): 21-23-0 (4th)

Managed by: Tsutomu Itoh

Top Hitter 2015 (avg): Ikuhiro Kiyota (.355)

Top Pitcher 2015 (ERA): Hideaki Wakui (2.59)

Other Notable Players (reason): Tadahito Iguchi (MLB returnee), Luis Cruz (11 HR, 40 RBI so far)

Face Tigers on (where): June 2-4 (Koshien Stadium)

Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters

FightersJoined NPB in: 1946

Previously Known as: Senators (1946), Tokyu Flyers (1947, 1949-1953), Tokuei Flyers (1948), Toei Flyers (1954-1972), Nittaku Home Flyers (1973), Nippon Ham Fighters (1974-2003)

Located in: Sapporo, Hokkaido

Won Championships in: 1962, 2006

Current Record (rank): 27-19-0 (1st)

Managed by: Hideki Kuriyama

Top Hitter 2015 (avg): Kensuke Kondoh (.323)

Top Pitcher 2015 (ERA): Shohei Ohtani (1.66)

Other Notable Players (position): Sho Nakata (16 home runs already), Kensuke Tanaka (MLB returnee), Mitsuo Yoshikawa (2012 PL MVP)

Face Tigers on (where): June 5-8 (Koshien Stadium)

Fukuoka Softbank Hawks

HawksJoined NPB in: 1938

Previously Known as: Nankai (1938-1943), Kinki Nippon (1944), Kinki Great Ring (1945), Nankai Hawks (1946-1988), Fukuoka Daiei Hawks (1989-2004)

Located in: Fukuoka City, Fukuoka

Won Championships in: 1959, 1964, 1999, 2003, 2011, 2014

Current Record (rank): 24-18-3 (2nd)

Managed by: Kimiyasu Kudoh

Top Hitter 2015 (avg): Yuki Yanagita (.356)

Top Pitcher 2015 (ERA): Kenji Ohtonari (2.48)

Other Notable Players (reason): Akira Nakamura (top 5 hitter), Dae-Lee Ho (top 5 hitter), Seiichi Uchikawa (WBC team 2013), Kenta Imamiya (2014 Best 9), Tadashi Settsu (WBC team 2013), Nao Higashihama (my former student)

Face Tigers on (where): June 9-11 (Yafuoku Dome)

Orix Buffaloes

JBuffaloesoined NPB in: 1936

Previously Known as: Hankyu (1936-1946), Hankyu Braves (1947-1988), Orix Braves (1989-1990), Orix Blue Wave (1991-2004)*

Located in: Osaka, Osaka

Won Championships in: 1975, 1976, 1977, 1996

* Merged with the Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes in 2004.

Current Record (rank): 17-30-1 (6th)

Managed by: Hiroshi Moriwaki

Top Hitter 2015 (avg): Masahiro Nishino (.362)

Top Pitcher 2015 (ERA): Brandon Dickson (1.44)

Other Notable Players (reason): Yoshio Itoi (2014 PL batting champ), Hiroyuki Nakajima (MLB returnee), Chihiro Kaneko (2014 Sawamura Award winner)

Face Tigers on (where): June 12-14 (Kyocera Dome)

Article Translation – Announcer Announces Retirement

The original article can be seen here 元の記事はこちらです

Koshien Stadium’s “Nightingale Announcer” Kayo Mizutani’s Last Call

by Mayumi Doi

070615_1704~04

“Batting first, third baseman, Nishioka.” It seems like that beautiful voice and smooth cadence have been echoing throughout Koshien Stadium since ages ago. May 10th. That day marks the final day of working as “nightingale announcer” (uguisu jo) at Koshien Stadium for Kayo Mizutani.

“Just stay calm and don’t make any mistakes. This is just like any other day, I kept telling myself. If I didn’t, my voice would have betrayed me,” explained Mizutani, the woman with the beautiful voice, as the curtain fell on her 15-year career as Koshien Stadium announcer.

 

Life-Changing Announcement at Koshien

 

Mizutani hails from Ishikawa prefecture and was a clubhouse manager for her high school’s baseball club. One of her jobs was to announce during games, but she didn’t consider broadcasting as a career at the time. Rather, she felt like she had been forced to do it. She vaguely hoped to find a baseball-related job in the future, but announcing was not one of the options she had in mind.

But in her final year of high school just before the summer tournament, that fateful encounter took place. Once every three years, Ishikawa prefecture would invite the Koshien Stadium announcer to hold a short course. Mizutani, took part in it, but “I knew nothing of the depths and wonders of stadium announcing. But I was deeply moved: ‘That’s what it takes to be a Koshien Stadium announcer! Wow!'”

The announcer who conducted the course was none other than current director of stadium announcers Kayoko Yamasaki. And Mizutani, who until then “had no ideas about my future,” instantly made the decision to try to become a stadium announcer upon hearing Yamasaki’s voice in person.

She didn’t have the foggiest clue of how to become Koshien’s announcer, though. Her first thought was to get a part-time job at the stadium, which she did – finding work as a receptionist, a vendor, and so on. While working, she dropped the hint countless times that she wanted to find work in the field of announcing. “Unless there’s a vacancy it can’t happen. And we have nothing opening up anytime soon,” was the rejection she continued to hear.

Three years and two months into her time at Koshien, the time came. “There happened to be a vacancy, and I was granted an interview.” That was May 2001, and in June she found herself working in the announcing industry.

But this is a rare case. It’s not like there is a clear path laid out for part-timers at Koshien to become announcers. “The timing just happened to be right. I got really lucky,” Mizutani emphasizes. No doubt Mizutani’s passion came across and the baseball gods granted her wish to her.

 

The One Time My Mind Went Blank

 

Mizutani’s dreams had come true but she was not able to start announcing games right away. The first job given to new hirees is telephone answering and recording services. You know the recorded playback when you call Koshien Stadium? That one. Also they do announcements outside the stadium. Like when the stadium gates open, cautions, and other public service announcements.

Next is doing the announcements for offseason events at the stadium. For instance, doing in-game announcing for baseball clubs that rent out Koshien.

Then they move on to pro games, but just like the pros, they start on the farm. They pick up experience doing Western League games.

She started taking charge of high school baseball announcing at the national summer tournament, and finally made her big league debut on August 31, 2003. “I can remember it clearly even now. (Shinobu) Fukuhara made the start, knocked in a run himself and won the match. I’m pretty sure it was 4-1.” It was an unforgettable match for Mizutani.

Even more than what happened during the game, she remembers how she herself felt. “When I say I remember, I mean that I remember blanking out.” The fact is, games were much more difficult and complicated to announce back then. During the game you would have to announce sponsorships along with athletes’ achievements, like if the first hit was a home run, there would be announcements for “First Hit Award,” “First Run Award,” “First RBI Award” and “First Home Run Award” and the sponsoring products to introduce. How to put that all together would be up to the announcer and had to be done ad lib. The game is a living thing, and you don’t know what’s going to come at you when. You have to make shrewd and quick decisions.

But Mizutani seasoned her announcements with quick wit and got through it all without incident. “That was the first time I felt like I drew a blank.” But now it’s a good memory.

 

High School and Pro Baseball

highschoolbaseball

Koshien Stadium is both the home turf of the Hanshin Tigers and the sacred grounds of high school baseball. Is there a difference in how Mizutani announces them? This is what she had to say: “For baseball boys, the high school tournament might be seen as a ‘one shot deal’ and their ‘last chance,’ but it’s not a good idea to think about that too much. I’m usually the type to get emotional really easily so I try to keep level-headed and just make sure I don’t make a mistake with their names when I announce.”

On the other hand, “not making any mistakes with the pros is a given, so I try to use more variation in my announcements with them. Announcing the next batter, making public service announcements and giving warnings all have a different feel to them.” So fun announcements in a cheerful voice, and warnings with a tone that says, “Be careful!”

She also put full attention into improving her announcing techniques to make sure they were properly received by the crowd. “There are actually a lot of things to keep in mind when imparting information. Purposeful inflections, stretching out and shortening sentences, pauses. Putting a pause in front of something really important. Highs, lows, tightness, looseness. Even now I feel like there’s lots to think about.”

Always her own worst critic, Mizutani always reflects on her performance and says, “There’s not a single time I got it all 100% right.” We’re not talking about mistakes that the average person would pick up on, but “I didn’t use the right inflection on this person’s name.” Things only a person of her talent and level would pick up on.

Her master, Yamasaki couldn’t say enough kind things about Mizutani, whose awareness of what it means to be a pro included “looking things up beforehand, revising the script thoroughly and just being prepared. She was reliable for all these years and kept that same eagerness that she had right from the start.”

 

Fujinami Loved Her Announcing, Too

fujinamihighschool

Soon after Mizutani made her debut with the parent club, word in the baseball world was that “a big name freshman joined the Koshien staff.” Right from the start she gained a reputation for having a beautiful and clear voice. She also held hi standards for herself and worked hard to reach them.

So on the occasion that she heard someone say, “The announcing at Koshien is second to none,” she felt supreme joy as she thought to herself that she had successfully carried the torch passed on to her by previous Koshien announcers.

Tigers pitcher Shintaro Fujinami, “Koshien poster boy,” also has a special place in his heart for the announcing at Koshien. “Even before I started playing high school ball I would come to the stadium and hear her voice. It’s been a part of my life for a long time and has left a strong impression on me. That slow, orthodox delivery and sticking to the basics really appealed to me. The way they pump things up at other stadiums, that’s cool and all but I personally prefer Koshien announcers.” That style that Fujinami loves is the very style that Mizutani longed to emulate, then inherited, then worked hard to preserve.

Mizutani will be on maternity leave for the time being. “I’m really not sure what I’ll be doing a year from now but in my heart it feels like the announcing season in my life has been completed. That is how I approached these final days.” Now, she’s leaving the announcing to her subordinates. She also has an important message to impart to them: “When you’re broadcasting, I want you to do it with the confidence that you’re the best at what you’re doing. If you make a mistake, brush it off. I would be happy to hear that you take pride in what you do.”

It is sad to think that we will not be hearing Mizutani’s voice anymore, but as long as the next uguisu jo carry the spirit of Mizutani in them, announcements at Koshien Stadium will continue to add color to the game of baseball.