Have you ever thought about going to a Japanese baseball game but, upon checking prices, thought the tickets are rather expensive?

Let me tell you about some great deals even I did know about until recently.

I was asked by Bob Bavasi of JapanBall.com to purchase 20 tickets to a select number of games to which he is taking his tour from the U.S. later this month, and I found out, if you have a large group and purchase the tickets in advance, you can save enough to buy food and drinks (even some of those 800 yen beers) for everyone.

For example, reserved seat A tickets for Seibu Lions games at Invoice Dome are 3,600 yen. However, because I bought them a few weeks ago for a game against the Chiba Lotte Marines on Sept. 11, they were reduced to 3,100 yen.

I got a similar bargain for the Sept. 13 Eagles-Lions game at Fullcast Stadium Miyagi.

The special infield reserved seats for Rakuten games, normally priced at 5,000, yen were available at a 10 percent discount for 4,500 yen each, because I wanted more than 15.

It gets even better.

For the BayStars game at Yokohama on Sept. 9, I ordered 20 A seats that usually sell for 4,000 yen. That’s 80,000, yen right?

But, when you buy a block of four A tickets, the package costs 10,000 yen. So, I got them for 2,500 yen each or 20 for 50,000, yen saving 30,000 yen.

The BayStars also sent me 20 copies of an excellent pamphlet they prepared in English for non-Japanese fans, titled “Enjoy Our Ballgame!”

It contains a season schedule of the Yokohama club and its Shonan Searex farm team, ticket prices with group discounts, a directory of ticket sales outlets and profiles of the team’s four foreign players this year, Marc Kroon, Mike Holtz, Cedrick Bowers and Kevin Witt.

Great idea!

Then there was the mother of all bargains.

For the Sept. 14 Yakult Swallows game at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, I asked for the 20 A seats that sell for 3,900 yen each, and the lady there said she can give me 10 “pair tickets” which means two for the price of one; a 50 percent hit. (No, you do not have to sit in the same seat with your partner.)

Instead of costing me 78,000, yen the price was only 39,000 yen for the 20 tickets.

So, the message here is this: Don’t be turned off by what appear to be high prices for tickets to Japanese games.

Get your Little League team, softball mates, office staff, neighborhood crowd or school class together and check out what bargains are to be had at your favorite ballpark, using the group sales and advance purchase benefits.

That Hawaiian Night promotion staged by the Chiba Lotte Marines on Aug. 23 turned out to be a wash. A torrential downpour just prior to game time wiped the potentially fun evening at Chiba Marine Stadium and the Marines game against the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks.

Marines Promotions Director Larry Rocca said, “The rainout was a downer, but at least the entire Hawaiian dance show was staged, although the second half (of the performance) took place in a total monsoon. Kind of comical, how wet everybody was. We are going to do the Hawaiian vacation giveaway portion in late September and, when we set the date, I will let you know.”

That giveaway was a series of door prizes to include a Hawaii vacation and, when Larry gets back to me on this, I will pass the information along to you.

Diamond Dust: Can you believe the season being put together by the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks lefty-righty pair of Toshiya Sugiuchi and Kazumi Saito?

These two pitchers have compiled, through games of Sept. 2, a combined record of 31-3, and southpaw Sugiuchi has all the losses. He’s 16-3, while righthander Saito is undefeated at 15-0.

The season they are having reminds me of the some of the great lefty-righty partners on successful major league teams of the past.

Warren Spahn and Lew Burdette of the 1957 Milwaukee Braves, Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale with the Los Angeles Dodgers of the early 1960s, Chris Short and Jim Bunning of the 1964 Philadelphia Phillies, Mickey Lolich and Denny McLain of the 1968 Detroit Tigers, Jerry Koosman and Tom Seaver of the 1969 New York Mets and, most recently, Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling of the 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks.

Best of all may have been the double lefthander-righthander duos of the 1971 Baltimore Orioles: Dave McNally-Jim Palmer and Mike Cuellar-Pat Dobson, all four of whom won 20 games that season.

Sugiuchi, 24, is the guy who surprised everyone by winning two games and becoming the MVP of the 2003 Japan Series, taken by the Hawks over the Hanshin Tigers, a rematch of which we may seeing next month.

He’s also the one who scrubbed his own 2004 season and jeopardized his career by punching the wall in the Fukuoka dugout following a bad outing and fracturing both his hands. You can bet the guy won’t be punching any walls this year.

Saito, 27, was a 20-game winner, losing only three for the 2003 Fukuoka Daiei Hawks and got off to a late start this spring because of an injury.

Should SoftBank maintain its lead and finish first in the Pacific League again this season, Sugiuchi and Saito will rival batting teammates Nobuhiko Matsunaka and Julio Zuleta for PL MVP honors.

Contact Wayne Graczyk by e-mail at wsgraczyk@yahoo.com

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.