Japan Series 2003

In October of 2003, many Americans left the cool autumn confines of Columbus, Ohio to head over to Osaka, Japan with the hopes of watching their favorite team, the Hanshin Tigers win their first Japan Series title since 1985. This is the story of one such journey.

Upon arriving in Osaka I had just one thing on my mind, Tigers baseball and how I was going to celebrate their greatest victory yet. However, there were only 7 games to be played and I had a 2 week stay ahead of me which needed to be filled up with other things as well such as a trip to Wakayama Castle (on left) and taiko drum video games (on right).

Another thing I decided to do with my time was catch with some old friends from Neyagawa NOVA. We got footloose at Karaoke and busted some mad moves over at Hep 5 with Sonic and company. Good times were had by all.

Another way to pass the time in-between the games was to visit all the crazy Hanshin relates sites around Osaka. Whether it be the local cell phone shop where they were pawning off the newest Hanshin themed phones or the video game shop where they tried to make me buy a Hanshin colored Game Cube I was constantly assaulted from every angle by all sorts of Hanshin merchandising. Sure all the Hanshin muffins, braziers, handwarmers, and beer were a little much, but in the end it just served as proof that life was good and all was right in the world. Osaka even dressed up their trademark Tsutenkaku Tower in Hanshin colors (shown on left). Tiger fever was running rampant and I like everyone else from Columbus, Ohio was suffering from a severe case.

Although it's true the entree aint as good without something on the side, that's all these things ended up being, a mere compliment to the real excitement that was to be had. That excitement of course being the actual Japan Series and Hanshin's date with destiny.

During game one I watched the game on the scoreboard/screen at Koshien stadium with my peeps (on left). Hanshin lost that game, but our spirits were not dashed. During game 3 I watched at a local Hanshin bar and the Tigers picked up their first victory (on right).

For game 5, which I saw live at Koshien, I painted myself up as Hanshin Kabuki Man (on left). And finally on game 7 Hanshin lost and I saw my dreams of their true destiny flutter and fail like so many colored balloons during the Lucky 7th Inning Stretch (on right).

What do you call someone who travels over 12,000 miles round trip to be disappointed and still stays a Tigers fan? A true blue Hanshin fan? I don't think so. Here in the USA we simply call them your average everyday Joe Schmoe from Ohio.

On a sidenote, I also got to see the Tigers coach Hoshino (who is without a doubt the most popular coach in Japan today) give his retirement speech live and in person just 2 days after the 7th game. He had to retire due to health problems after just 2 years [2 great years] at the Hanshin helm. I know I, like everyone else in Columbus, will miss him with the most bittersweet of pains. I also got to see 2 other star Hanshin players at close proximity, so one can imagine just how my heart pitter-pattered. (on left, from left to right, Coach Hoshino, Right Fielder Hiyama, and 2nd Baseman Imaoka)

Till next year Tiger fans, remember to keep your stripes true blue and to never never never surrender [even after traveling 12,000 miles to witness a devastating loss]


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