June 17, 2008

Industrial League Baseball - Matsushita vs. NTT

On Monday evening, we got to experience a different brand of Japanese baseball - the Japanese Industrial League. Panasonic (Matsushita Electric), owns an amateur baseball club that competes in this league against teams owned by many of the other large Japanese companies. Every summer, there is a large tournament, with the finals played in the Tokyo Dome. The Panasonic team is playing in the Osaka Region preliminary round, held at the Osaka Dome (大阪ドーム).

A co-worker of Mike's was good enough to translate an email that was sent to all employees urging them to go and take their families to cheer on the Matsushita team. Tickets were free and transportation was paid for. They just want those fannies in the seats. We took them up on that offer. (And we were without a doubt, the only gaijin there).

The level of play is akin to the high minor leagues; many from this league are eventually drafted onto Japan's professional teams. The atmosphere, however, is very similar to college sports, complete with raucous cheering and lots of team (company) spirit. They handed out Blue and Yellow Panasonic Fans to everyone on the Panasonic side (the first base line), which we beat and sang in unison. Much to Jacob and Lauren's delight, there was a band, some guy whaling on a huge drum, and a mini-stage for the and male and female cheerleaders. The two main cheers translated as "Beat NTT" and " Player X Get a Powerful Hit." But set to music and in Japanese, it sounds much better! Every time we scored a run, it was like a 20 minute party, complete with insane cheering, including the waiving of flags and banners in Hiragana and Katakana (good reading practice!) and Kanji (below are the cheerleaders on stage unfurling banners with each syllable of MA-TSU-SHI-TA written in Katakana), pounding on our Fans, the singing of the company cheer, and the young band members taking a frenzied lap of our side of the stadium.

Lucky for us, the game itself was also very exciting. NTT got out to an early 3-1 lead, but Matsushita came back with single runs in the bottom of the 8th and 9th innings. Then in the bottom of the 10th, we pushed one more run across to win it on a walk-off bloop single. That's how we roll at Matsushita baby.

Jacob was ecstatic with the come-back win. Lauren, who was dancing around with her eyes glued to the cheerleaders all game, also had a blast until she fell asleep on Ilena. She is only built for 9 innings.

Oh, and yes, the cheerleaders pictured above are full-time Matsushita employees. They float between the Matsushita baseball, volleyball, and basketball teams.

No comments: