We arrived at the ballpark about 45 minutes before game time and I immediately headed down to the front of the stands by the Islanders dugout where there was already a group of fans attempting to get autographs. I had brought three baseball cards along, hoping to get autographs from manager Terushi Nakajima, pitching coach Hirota Katoh and pitcher Itsuki Shoda (who had started the night before). I actually didn't think my chances of getting Nakajima or Katoh were very good as I figured that they would be busy before the game started.
The players were very friendly to the fans attempting to get autographs. Most of the fans were kids trying to get the players to sign the roster/program that the league was distributing at the game, although there was an adult who was getting them to sign a baseball. A couple of the guys were surprised to discover that there were Japanese baseball cards of some of the guys (actually that there were Japanese baseball cards at all!)
To make a long story short, I was actually successful in getting autographs on all the cards I had brought with. Katoh was the first to come out, signing for everyone before he headed out to the bullpen. He expressed surprise at seeing a baseball card of himself here - I apologized to him that it wasn't a card of him with the Swallows.
|2001 BBM #266|
Nakajima came by shortly afterwards and quickly headed out to the bullpen to confer with Katoh. I was able to catch him as he was walking back to the dugout. He too expressed surprise at seeing a baseball card of himself here.
|1994 BBM #387|
|2003 BBM 1st Version #317|
The league had a table set up with a little bit of merchandise. Besides the roster/programs they were handing out, they were selling t-shirts, hats and jerseys. I was tempted, but ultimately decided not to get anything - if they'd had a XXL size in the t-shirt, I probably would have bought one.
Here's some photos from the game (which the Jackals won 6-1):
|Front gates of Yogi Berra Stadium|
|Nakajima and Katoh in the bullpen|
|Players at the Islander's dugout|
|More players at the Islander's dugout|
|View from our seats|
|Shungo Fukunaga with Yoshihiro Kobayashi in the background|
|Lining up for the post-game bow|