July 29, 2012

Hanshin Tigers Baseball Game

When I spent time with one of my friends in Hiroshima, she told me I had to experience a baseball game while in Osaka. 'Hanshin Tigers fans are the craziest,' she said, despite being a staunch Hiroshima Carp supporter herself.

Last night, a group of us went to Hanshin Koshien stadium in Nishinomiya to watch the Tigers go up against the Yokohama DeNA Baystars. Arriving at the stadium, you got the feeling that this was serious business. Lining the path to the entrance were back-to-back street vendors selling Tigers merchandise, in addition to the two large official Tigers shops. Fans wandered around in a sea of white, yellow and black, wearing Hanshin Tigers towels tied around their heads to combat the sticky summer heat.
Tiger statue at Koshien Stadium
One of the official Tigers shops
We got the cheapest tickets (1900 yen) and were seated in the outfield, right next to a small but enthusiastic bunch of Baystar supporters dressed in blue. They had trumpets, and a catchy little chant that we couldn't help singing along to. We had to keep reminding ourselves what side we were on.
Yep, we visited the Tigers shop...
View of the field
I was sort of so busy enjoying my American hot dog that I missed the start of the game, and from then on I was a bit... lost. I'm not a very sporty girl, and baseball is non existent in New Zealand. But by the 4th inning I had figured out what an inning is, and I was then informed that the Baystars had scored (?) three home runs (?) and were winning easily. Probably should have paid more attention.
However, I can tell you that number 4 on the Baystars caught a lot of balls, and number 32 on the Tigers is my favourite player. His name is Ryota, and the crowd cheered his name a lot. I think that's probably the main reason he's my favourite.

The best part of the game was the end of the 7th inning, when all of a sudden everyone in the stadium started blowing up long balloons, which they then released into the sky. After that everyone started singing a song about the Hanshin Tigers, and from then on the chanting didn't stop until the end of the game, despite the fact the Tigers were losing. Apparently the balloon release and song is a Tigers tradition, and happens at every game. It was awesome.

Balloons starting to spring up towards end of 7th inning
Ready for balloon release
I read a funny story about how in 1985 the Hanshin Tigers won the Japan series, and in order to celebrate, fans who resembled each of the players jumped into Dotombori canal. The problem was, they couldn't find a person who looked like American player Randy Bass, so they ended up stealing a Colonel Sanders statue from a nearby KFC and throwing him into the canal. This incident is said to have cursed the team, and they would never win again until the statue was rescued from the water (which it was, in 2009). I think this proves that Hanshin Tigers fans are truly crazy. But it just makes me love Osaka a little bit more.


  1. ha, I was at this game! (Tigers won the following night a whopping 9-2) Seriously suggest getting right field tickets if you go again, its where the craziest fans sit and is freaking crazy. It definitely make me love Osaka more too.

    1. Wow, that's awesome! Good to hear they had a win after that =) Cheers for the comment, please let me know how further baseball games go, haha!