I did it.
I had a lousy day for most of the day. Our DSL went out last night and I spent two hours on the phone with Verizon, trying to get them to acknowledge there was a problem outside the house, not inside. I wasn't successful, but when I got up this morning, our DSL was working again. Obviously elves came in the middle of the night and fixed it. I almost missed my train and the rain made it take 40 minutes to drive the 10 miles from where the train drops me off to where I work. So I was tired and cranky when I made it out to Cal Sr's Yard this evening. The Japan/Mexico game was supposed to have started at 5, but rain had delayed the early games so that the Australia/Korea game was just ending when I got there a little after 6.
I kept scanning the crowd while the Japanese and Mexican teams warmed up on the field. I had lent my Sharpie to some teenage girls who were trying to flirt with some of the Australian players. Just as I got the pen back, I spotted this man walking from the hotel beyond the field over to the stands. I was pretty sure it was Senichi Hoshino. I stopped one of the Japanese fans who I knew spoke English and he confirmed it was him.
I walked up to him and said "Excuse me, Mr. Hoshino, but could you sign this for me?" I think he was a bit surprised and amused that someone knew who he was. I asked him if it was OK if I took a picture as he signed the card and he said yes.
Here's the card (2003 BBM 1st Version #94):
Once he handed the card back, I thanked him and moved away quickly. I had been worried that I was going to go all fanboy and I really didn't want to embarrass myself. I hung out for a little bit longer, but even though I had a little rush of adrenaline from meeting him, I was still pretty exhausted and I wanted to crash early tonight. I did take another picture of him from across the field while he was watching the team warm up:
So my day ended on a much brighter note than it started on.
Japan ended up beating Mexico 1-0 to go undefeated in pool play. This was the only game that they did not win via the slaughter rule. Their next game will be Friday at 5 in the first round of the championships. I can't make that game, but I may be able to be at the International Bracket's Final on Saturday at noon. I'll have to see.
UPDATE: Via Yakyu Baka, Hoshino was at an Orioles/Mariners game this week and met up with Ichiro, Koji Uehara and Alonzo Powell. Looks like he's wearing the same shirt in this photo that he was when I saw him.
I love that he signed it in both Japanese and English (or at least it looks that way).
He looks a lot more grizzled than the last time I saw any photos of him (circa the Olympics).
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