Sunday, June 14, 2015

Shikoku Island League All Stars vs New Jersey Jackals

I made the trip up to Little Falls, New Jersey last night to watch the Shikoku Island All Stars take on the New Jersey Jackals in the second game of their CanAm League tour.  I was accompanied by Chuck, one of my best friends who is not a baseball fan but gamely agreed to come out with me since we almost never get to see each other.

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
Shoda was surprisingly a bit more difficult to catch.  I think he came out to the Islander's dugout while I was getting Nakajima's autograph.  I ended up talking a little bit to Drew Naylor, the Australian pitcher from Kagawa - he mentioned that he was hoping that pitching in the league would get him some exposure and help him get a job in NPB and we talked briefly about Mitch Dening's recent success with the Swallows.  He was gracious enough to call Shoda over so I could get his autograph just before the game started.  I felt bad that I hadn't brought that WBC card of Naylor with me so that he could sign it.

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

Katoh signing 

Nakajima and Katoh in the bullpen

Players at the Islander's dugout

More players at the Islander's dugout

Drew Naylor

Starting Lineup

View from our seats

Shungo Fukunaga with Yoshihiro Kobayashi in the background


Lining up for the post-game bow

Post-game bow


The Prowling Cat said...

Very cool story. Glad you shared it.

Anonymous said...

Nice job. Really awesome!

Scott K.

Sean said...

That is really cool, nice job getting everyone`s autograph. Looks like a nice little place to watch a game.

I was actually just in Shikoku last week (my wife is from Kagawa).

NPB Card Guy said...

We seem to be on a Shikoku kick lately - my wife's reading a book about someone doing the Buddhist temple trail on the island. And Ryan's been doing a bunch of posts on his trip there last summer.