The Pacific League’s Nippon Ham Fighters will hold their first Arizona Diamondbacks Night promotion on Saturday, Sept. 21, at the Tokyo Dome and, as was the case with Yankees Day for the past 20 years, the Fighters ballclub is inviting 3,000 foreign fans as guests to this fun international event. The Fighters-Yankees partnership ended on June 30 of this year, and Nippon Ham signed a new agreement with the D’backs, the defending World Series champion team which defeated the Yankees in that exciting 2001 World Series last October.

Besides saluting Arizona, the Fighters will honor the foreign players and the foreign fans. Please note the promotion, also known as “gaijin day,” will be held for the first time on a Saturday and at night, with game time 6 p.m. This year’s visiting team is the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks.

The Fighters, Diamondbacks and some kind sponsors will offer door prizes to be won by lucky fans, and a special award will be given to the Most Valuable Player of the game.

Public address announcements throughout the day will be made in English as well as Japanese, and a message from the Diamondbacks will be read prior to the game. A pregame ceremony will feature the presentation of sponsors’ gifts to player representatives of both teams, floral bouquets given by American children to managers Yoshinori Oshima of the Fighters and Sadaharu Oh of Daiei, and foreign players of the two clubs.

The American and Japanese national anthems will be performed, and a sponsor’s representative will deliver the ceremonial “shikyushiki” opening pitch to Daiei’s leadoff batter. Fans will be invited to join in singing “YMCA” during a break in the action following the fifth inning, and “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” during the seventh-inning stretch.

Before telling you how to get your free tickets to join the crowd, let me run down some information and answers to anticipated questions about Diamondbacks Night:

* The Arizona team will not be at the Tokyo Dome. They are busy, playing in the thick of their own National League West Division pennant race and will be visiting the Colorado Rockies in Denver that day. You will see a regular-season Pacific League game between the Fighters and Hawks.

* You may bring your own food and drink, but cans and bottles are not allowed inside the Tokyo Dome. There is a wide variety of Japanese and western foods and drinks on sale at the stadium, including Pizza Hut and Kentucky Fried Chicken.

* Unused tickets may not be sold under any circumstances. The tickets we are getting are stamped “complimentary,” and anyone caught selling or attempting to sell tickets may be prosecuted by law.

* It will add to the festive and international atmosphere if you wear the cap, T-shirt or jersey of your favorite major-league or Japanese team, even if it is not the Diamondbacks or Fighters.

* The seats are together in blocks located in the lower stands between first base and right field or third base and left field or in the upper deck behind first or third base.

* The Tokyo Dome is in Bunkyo Ward in the center of Tokyo, accessible from JR Suidobashi Station on the Sobu Line, or through Suidobashi Station on the Mita Subway Line, or Korakuen Station on the Marunouchi or Namboku Subway Lines. There is no parking for passenger cars at the Dome.

* You may bring Japanese friends or family members in your group.

The Fighters have once again asked me to coordinate the event and distribute the 3,000 free tickets to the foreign community. If you would like to join us on Diamondbacks Night, you can get your tickets by following these easy-to-understand directions. Please read carefully:

Send a stamped (80 yen), standard-sized, self-addressed Japanese envelope directly to me with your request of up to five tickets. Be sure your address is complete and correct, including the seven-digit postal zip code, and be sure there is a stamp on the envelope. Do not use an airmail envelope. Indicate whether you want one, two, three, four or five tickets. It is not necessary to send by special delivery (sokutatsu).

Send your request and envelope directly to me at this address: Wayne Graczyk, 1-12-18 Kichijoji Higashi-cho, Musashino-shi, Tokyo-to 180-0002.

This is an excellent opportunity, especially for those who have never seen a Japanese pro baseball game in person or have never been to the Tokyo Dome. I look forward to receiving your mail and to seeing you on Diamondbacks Night on Sept. 21.

Be sure to get there early to catch batting practice and the opening ceremony, and so you’ll be one of the 5,000 fans to receive the lucky card numbers for the door prize drawing. Also, check out the Pro Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum next to Gate 21 at the Tokyo Dome.

With the Fighters’ impending move to Sapporo in 2004, this may be one of the last chances for Tokyo’s foreign community to take advantage of the Fighters’ generosity and an opportunity such as this. Let’s get out there, support the Fighters and thank them for 20 years of free tickets and good times.

See you at the Tokyo Dome!

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