Salesperson 40 (Japanese)
I remember 1998 very clearly, the year Daisuke Matsuzaka (now with the New York Mets) was at Koshien. The semi-final he was in, against PL Gakuen, went to an incredible 17 innings. Matsuzaka eventually won (for Yokohama). My boss and I had started watching on TV during lunch and we just couldn’t stop.
Office staff, 36 (English)
I don’t really like baseball so I have no major single memory of the Koshien tournament. That said, it is always on in my office if the boss is out, as staff turn it on when he leaves. I guess that makes my main memory of Koshien being a kind of background entertainment during working hours!
Bar owner, 35 (Japanese)
Yuki Saito, the “handkerchief prince” who wiped his sweat away with a handkerchief his mother gave him. Usually I don’t watch baseball, but when Saito was playing (in 2006) I — and many others who might not normally watch — did, because his rivalry with Masahiro Tanaka was so well known.
Beer consultant, 39 (Japanese)
Back in 1983-85, PL Gakuen reigned. They were really strong and included the “K-K combi” of Kazuhiro Kiyohara and Masumi Kuwata, two players who went on to have long careers in the professional game. One other thing was that at Koshien, bunts were used — a big no-no in the U.S. leagues!
Language teacher, 35 (American)
Watching the battle of the future between pitchers Masahiro Tanaka (now a Yankee) and Yuki Saito, an epic fight over two days with over 1,000 pitches thrown, and Tanaka batting against Saito in a last chance to win. I’ve never been a big baseball fan but that type of drama made me realize why many love the game.
Civil engineer, 27 (Japanese)
Well, my story would not be about what happened at Koshien but what happened on the way there. I played baseball myself but had shoulder, neck and back trouble, so I couldn’t have gone as a player. Saying that, my school in Kanagawa was not so good either, so even if I was healthy I couldn’t have gone!
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