In Spite Of Everything, Baseball Season Begins In Japan

April 12th, 2011 | 2 comments | Posted by Jen

One month and a day after an earthquake and tsunami devastated northeastern Japan, and even as the nuclear threat level at the Fukushima Daiichi plant was raised to the highest level, baseball season got underway in the beleaguered country Tuesday.

Chiba fans observe a moment of silence before Tuesday's season opener

While one team, the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, who are based in hard-hit Sendai, won’t return to their home stadium until the end of this month, and teams shift games to daytime and try to drum up enough diesel generators for later in the season to minimize the use of electricity, Nippon Professional Baseball is carrying on for the fans and the country. The AFP reports:

“At a time of national crisis, the role that sports can play is far from small,” the mass-circulation newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun said in an editorial, recalling the terror attacks in the United States of September 11, 2001.

US major leagues resumed play six days after the tragedy, with New York Mets catcher Mike Piazza urging spectators to forget the terrible incident for the two or three hours of the game, it said.

“Everyone in the Japanese baseball world shares this feeling,” said the Yomiuri.

Baseball’s version of “the show must go on” regardless of circumstance extends further back in history than the September 11 terrorist attacks, however. In January of 1942, a month after the U.S. was attacked by Japan at Pearl Harbor, and only two weeks after we officially declared war against the Axis Powers, President Roosevelt wrote a letter–known today as the Green Light Letter–to then-Commissioner Kenesaw Landis in which the president expressed that continuing to play ball was “best” for a country at war:

I honestly feel that it would be best for the country to keep baseball going. There will be fewer people unemployed and everybody will work longer hours and harder than ever before.

And that means that they ought to have a chance for recreation and for taking their minds off their work even more than before.

Baseball provides a recreation which does not last over two hours or two hours and a half, and which can be got for very little cost.

And opening day, in particular, is not only a welcome distraction, it’s a signal of new beginnings. When asked why the day was so special to so many people, the late Bob Feller, the only pitcher in Major League Baseball history to ever throw a no-hitter on opening day, back in 1940, said simply, “The snow is melted and the birds are chirping and the kids are playing outside.”

[NY Times: Solace in the Stadium as Baseball Resumes in Japan]

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2 Responses to “In Spite Of Everything, Baseball Season Begins In Japan”

  1. Hello Kitty says:

    You gotta have “wa”! (Not original I know, but fitting.)

  2. Crystal says:

    I totally support the idea of holding the sports events during hard times. It is a big moral booster.

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