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Koshien Tour and Owner Meeting Advice

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Koshien Tour and Owner Meeting Advice
I'm looking for some general help from Westbay-san and my fellow Torakichi-tachi and yakyu fans.

For long reasons not necessary to go into, I've been invited to meet the owner of the Hanshin Tigers in a polite social context, and get a personal tour of Koshien. Aside from the obvious polite chit-chat, is there anything specifically I should ask or inquire of him? Anything to surely avoid? Anything special at Koshien that I might ask to see that is usually not open to fans?

Obviously I want to put my best foot forward (fortunately I have an interpreter who can help me with keigo issues). Emily Post doesn't cover this in her book so any help is most welcome.

Many thanks!
Comments
Re: Koshien Tour and Owner Meeting Advice
[ Author: westbaystars | Posted: Dec 9, 2007 7:41 PM | YBS Fan ]

This sounds like a really good opportunity to learn something new about how the ball club is run. But it doesn't really sound like an interview setting, so I don't suppose that hard hitting questions like "What did the board of directors think of the Nomura Shoken take over attempt a couple years ago?" would be appropriate.

Here are some questions/comments I'd like to ask:
  • What are the chances of Kakefu managing the Tigers in the near future?

  • Regarding history, the team went back and forth being called the Osaka Tigers and Hanshin Tigers. Was the team not under Hanshin ownership during the Osaka Tigers years?

  • I would think that on the tour of Koshien that questions like what year the facilities you're looking at were installed would be appropriate. Such questions shows that you're paying attention, and are interested in the history of what many people consider to be the ultimate shrine to baseball in Japan. Too many such questions, though, may look like false interest. So instead of asking about when every time, mention that such and such a room looks like it had a recent "reform" ("reform" is Japanese-English for an upgrade or make over of a piece of architecture), or compare how one room looks older/newer than another.

  • For interesting trivia/personal interest, where was Miyazaki-owner when Enatsu threw an 11 inning no hit-no run game against Chunichi (then hitting a saynonara home run himself) on August 30, 1973?

  • Same question regarding the April 7, 1985 Bass, Kakefu, Okada "back screen 3 renpatsu"?

  • Would Miyazaki-owner support the idea of Hoshino for NPB Commissioner?

  • Does Miyazaki-owner occasionally consult with Kuma-former owner regarding the team and team policies?
Hmm. Reviewing these questions, I'm not sure that Emily Post would necessarily agree about appropriateness in all cases. But if given the chance, these are certainly things that I would find interesting - and other than the last one, they aren't confrontational in any way.

Under true interview circumstances, I'd probably want to dive more into how the owners meetings are run, ask why cooperation between owners for the good of NPB isn't happening, and some other questions regarding criticisms of the running of NPB. But under the setting you described, those would all be out of bounds.

Regrettably, I've never been to Koshien, so I can't think of anything off hand to ask. I would probably just try to absorb as much as I could on the tour, with polite comments and questions as I described above. (While I'm awful at remembering dates, it would at least give me a good idea of the evolution of the stadium.)

Oh, if you could, I'd love to see a photo tour of Koshien. If you don't have anywhere to post your photos (providing you're allowed to take them), write me at my pen name at this domain and I'll see that they're uploaded.

OK, Torakichi-tachi. What aspects of Koshien have you been dying to know about?
Re: Koshien Tour and Owner Meeting Advice
[ Author: Christopher | Posted: Dec 9, 2007 8:54 PM | HAN Fan ]

Some questions that you could ask might be:
  • Where does Miyazaki-owner see the Tigers in five years?
  • Where does he see Japanese baseball going over the next decade?
Good luck, it's a wonderful opportunity.
Re: Koshien Tour and Owner Meeting Advice
[ Author: Guest: zman | Posted: Dec 10, 2007 12:00 PM ]

Westbay,

Never been to Koshien? That's like never going to Wrigley in the U.S.

You need to come down to Kansai this next season. Be warned, once you enjoy Tigers baseball at the home stadium you may drop your support for the YBs entirely.

Of course we would welcome you to the Tigers fold.
Re: Koshien Tour and Owner Meeting Advice
[ Author: westbaystars | Posted: Dec 21, 2007 11:34 PM | YBS Fan ]

I'm sure that many of you have been wondering how Sara B.'s tour of Koshien went. Well, it went right on into a press conference at the end of it, with Sara stating "Rokko Oroshi is #1" in Osaka-ben according to SanSpo (she denies saying it, but it's OK). Sara is in Osaka currently performing (having performed?) a recital at Osaka Phoenix Hall today (December 21).

More pictures of Sara B. becoming an honorary member of the Tigers can be found here:Yes, all of the above articles are in Japanese. You can get some of the background they printed in the articles from Sara's web site (in English).

One of the articles mentions that Miyazaki-owner is impressed that Tiger fans around the world can follow the team's results on the Internet. Let's see if he can follow that up with unrestricted video. I've been hearing that he's a bit more progressive than the average owner.
Re: Koshien Tour and Owner Meeting Advice
[ Author: Sara B | Posted: Dec 22, 2007 12:44 PM | HT Fan ]

I have to start with profoundest thanks to Westbay-sama for his advice and help with this occasion. I'm a little behind the learning curve with photos on the internet, but as soon as I return home I will get some copies of the shots taken in the Tigers clubhouse, etc. and see about getting those into this website. And I feel hazukashii about trying to report on something a little over my head. Music is my forte, not baseball, and there are fans aplenty here who know more in their pinky finger about yakyu than I do. So please have mercy and patience upon my baka-atama.

It was obviously a slow news day in Koshien, but I couldn't help thinking about the situation in reverse. Imagine if a Japanese fan of the Yankees were to visit New York City. Can you imagine George Steinbrenner greeting him and giving him a personal tour of his Bronx digs? (And calling the NY Times yet, to take a few shots?) Jeez, I was really stunned with an impression that the Tigers are under-aware of their worldwide fan base (there are fan clubs in Toronto and Vancouver, for example). I was shocked that there was a press conference, and scared s--tless too, for my nihongo is far from jouzu.

Anyway, regarding Miyazaki-owner, he was obviously a most gracious and humorous host (and despite protestations to the contrary, very good with English). When I sheepishly mentioned how busy he must be, apologizing for taking up his time, he simply responded that he does not think of owning the Tigers as work, but as play ("asobu"). My interpreter found that refreshing and pleasant, as did I. He said that baseball is entertainment as well as sport, and that the fans would appreciate a news story on the lighter side.

I asked Miyazaki-owner if he thought Hoshino-san would be a good NPB commissioner, and he responded affirmatively and enthusiastically. Miyazaki-owner also referred to the loss of NPB players to MLB as "NPB's biggest headache." (Just the day before, Kyuji Fujikawa had pressed for early free agency and Miyazaki-owner had turned him down.) There was no answer to my request for live games on the Internet, though! That was my one attempt to push beyond traditional politesse.

The facilities we saw at Koshien were first-class, from the sauna, weight and exercise rooms (littered with really crappy manga), to the player's lockers, which more properly resemble wooden office cubicles. Most of the players get one cubicle, but some of the veterans, like Kanemoto, occupy two. Star-struck, I posed for photos in front of Imaoka's and Fujikawa's spaces. In the kitchen/dining area, there was a small jinja (Shinto shrine) where some of the players appeal to the Gods before the game. And there were beautiful and historic photos adorning the walls - some of Babe Ruth's visit to Koshien in 1935, others with historic Tiger players and various gaikokujin like Gene Bacque and Basu-san; and three fabulous shots in the main waiting room, of managers Yoshida, Hoshino, and Okada being thrust skyward by their players after championship titles. There is also plenty of historic paraphernalia on display, game-winning bats and gloves and the like under glass.

The pose that elicited the most shots of the sports reporters were those of Miyazaki-owner adorning my crown with a Tigers cap, in imitation of the act of greeting a new team member. At that time I asked Miyazaki-owner which of the Tigers players were the most dedicated in terms of workout habits. Without hesitation, he said: Kanemoto. And then added that Toritani was a fanatical student of batting as well.

Koshien Stadium itself is now under major renovation, and it seems that some seats usually under the roof will be exposed to the sky during the 2008 season. Miyazaki-owner also referred to the naming rights now being given to some seats in the stadium - major revenue for the team. I liked the way the plaster sheets covering the stadium are all decorated with pictures of ivy. An unnecessary, but wonderful touch.

I'm still descending from my personal Mt. Rokko, but should I think of more important details later, I'll add those to this post. Due to the news stories, I got a lot of e-mail from Japanese torakichi and now I have a new e-network of yakyu friends with whom I can practice my nihongo. It was a wonderful day, one that I will treasure forever, with gratitude for the ways in which a simple game in a country I adore has so enriched my life.
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