Just before the first pitch of the Hiroshima Carp’s season opener against the Tokyo Yakult Swallows on March 31, a familiar tune emanated from the visitor’s section in left field at Jingu Stadium.

It was the cheer song Carp fans used to sing for Takahiro Arai, a Hiroshima-born star slugger who retired in 2018 and was in the dugout for his first game as the team’s manager.

If the fans were belting out the tune back then as a way to welcome a favorite son back into the fold, singing it now, after the All-Star break, might serve as a way to welcome the team back into the pennant race for the first time in four years.