MLB official opener: Mets vs Cubs
Mar.30 at Tokyo Dome
A competitive game was played between the 2 teams. In the 5th inning, Rickey Henderson pops a sacrifice fly for the Mets' first run. The Cubs catch up in the bottom of that inning. In the 7th, fans were thrilled to see Henderson steal 2nd base. The game went into extra innings. In the 11th inning with bases loaded, Benny Agbayani blasted a grand slam off newcomer Danny Young to take the Mets to a 5 to 1 victory. The two teams will be off to the US the next day to play from Apr. 3.
Mar.29 at Tokyo Dome
Legendary slugger Hank Aaron hurled the first pitch to open the first MLB game outside of North America. Japan's Crown Prince Naruhito and Princess Masako looked on. They are scenes no one would have imagined that would be realized in Japan a few years ago. Mike Hampton was the Mets starting pitcher. He did not do too well, walking a number of batters. In the first inning, Eric Young breezed through the bases to come home. The Cubs starter was Jon Lieber. All eyes were no doubt on Sammy Sosa. But his first at bat ended a double play. The Cubs caught up in the 4th inning. Mark Grace homered. Sosa doubled and tried to come home but was blocked by Mike Piazza. Piazza smashed a gigantic 2 run homer, but it wasn't enough to catch up. . The Cubs Rick Aguilera closed the game for the Cubs 5 to 3 win.
MLB is here
Players of the Chicago Cubs and New York Mets arrived in Tokyo on Mar. 25 to play the first ever MLB regular season outside of North America. On Mar. 27 and 28 both teams have been slated to play the Seibu Lions and the Tokyo Giants before their season kick off on Mar. 29.
|Mar.27|| Seibu Lions vs New York Mets: 1 to 8 |
A one-sided game by the Mets. Ken Suzuki contributed to the Lions'with a homerun
Tokyo Giants vs Chicago Cubs: 6 to 0
Giants Hideki Matsui and Yoshinobu Takahashi blast a homerun each before a crowd of 53,000
|Mar.28||Seibu Lions vs Chicago Cubs: 5 to 6 |
The Cubs reversed the score in the 9th inning with Damon Buford's homerun.
Tokyo Giants vs New York Mets: 9 to 5
Domingo Martinez and Yoshinobu Takahashi again homered. Drawback for the Giants was its relief pitchers.
Suntory Cup wrap up
On Mar. 26, the exibition game series wrapped up. Chiba Lotte Marines did so at its former franchise, Kawasaki Stadium which will be torn down soon. They played against the Yokohama BayStars who also was at home there when they were called Taiyo Whales. The stadium attracted 21,000 fans wearing old uniforms and flanking old pennnants. Lotte Marines' line up exploded. The team blasted in 22 runs over 6. Another highlight in the Suntory Cup is that Orix Blue Wave's Ichiro did amazingly well. He hit .548--an unprecedented average.In addition, Ichiro's team clinched the cup, and 10 million yen.
Baseball great Tsuruoka succumbs
Hall of famer Kazuto Tsuruoka died in an Osaka hospital early Mar. 7. at 83. He joined Nankai in 1939 and during his 8 years as a player he clinched MVP 3 times, and the home run and RBI titles once each. He established a greater name as the team manager, leading the Nankai for 23 years. He took the team to league victory 11 times. In 1965, Tsuruoka entered the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Nagashima displays no.3
It happened at Miyazaki Stadium on Feb. 13. It's right before an even larger turnout than the record marked the previous day, or 55,000 Shigeo Nagashima took off his jacket. The crowd gave a great big moan and applause on seeing the beloved stars take off his jacket to get ready to train Akira Etoh. And there, Nagashima's trademark number reappeared for the first time since he retired as a ball player. Nagashima then batted balls toward Etoh to whom he gave up number 33 since that was the pledge he made to him upon acquiring him from the Carp. Etoh said after practice that he was thrilled to be present at the historical moment.
On Japan's national holiday, Constitution Day on Feb. 11, baseball fans flocked to each camp site. The Tokyo Giants attracted a surprising 48,000 spectators. It's the most ever recorded at a training camp. Some were there to catch a glimpse of newly acquired players such as Kimiyasu Kudo and Akira Etoh. But the majority were glued to manager Shigeo Nagashima. He is back to wearing number 3 this season, because he had to give up 33 to Etoh. However, he has not yet taken off his jacket in front of the public eye and old time fans rushed to Miyazaki Stadium with the hope of seeing the former star player with the number on the back of his uniform . But, Nagashima kept his jacket on, to the dismay of fans.
Baseball camp schedule
The 12 pro baseball teams are scattered all over Japan and abroad to start off their team training from February 1. Here is a list of their camp sites.
|Chunichi Dragons||Chatan, Okinawa (Feb.1-28)|
|Tokyo Giants||Miyazaki-city, Miyazaki (Feb.1-27)|
|Yokohama Bay Stars||Ginowan-city, Okinawa (Feb.1- 27)|
|Yakult Swallows||Urazoe, Okinawa (Feb.1-28)|
|Hiroshima Toyo Carp||Okinawa-city, Okinawa (Feb.1-14)|
Nichinan, Miyazaki (Feb.15-Mar.1)
|Hanshin Tigers||Aki-city, Kochi (Feb.1-27)|
|Fukuoka Daiei Hawks||Kochi-city, Kochi (Feb.1-29)|
|Seibu Lions|| Tokorozawa, Saitama (Feb. 1-3) |
Haruno-cho, Kochi (Feb.5-Mar.1)
|Orix Blue Wave||Miyako Island, Okinawa (Feb.1-28)|
|Chiba Lotte Marines||Kagoshima (Feb.1-29)|
|Nippon Ham Fighters||Nago-city, Okinawa (Feb.1-Mar.1)|
|Kintetsu Buffaloes||Saipan (Feb.1-12)|
Hyuga-city, Miyazaki (Feb.14-Mar.3)
Ichiro is top wage earner again
6- time Pacific League leading hitter Ichiro Suzuki signed the new millenium with the Blue Wave on Jan. 8. His one year contract is estimated at 530 million yen. That's 30 million yen more than last season. He secured first place in pro baseball's 2000 contract.
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