On April 15th, at Kusanagi Stadium in Shizuoka, Sato Takeru-san and Watabe Atsuro-san threw out the ceremonial first pitch in Tokyo Yakult Swallows × Yomiuri Giants of Japanese professional baseball league!
After their names were announced and ‘Do You Ever Shine?’, the theme song of ‘Bitter Blood’, was played at the stadium, Sato-san and Watabe-san appeared in suits onto the ground. While Sato-san gave Tsuba-Kuro high five and took the mound, Watabe-san and Tsuba-Kuro exchanged bows and stepped into the batter’s box. Usually, the batter of the team to bat first comes in, but this time, Sato-san was the pitcher and Watabe-san was the batter: the duel of the father-and-son buddy.
At the sign from Tsuba-Kuro, the ceremony started, but the ball Sato-san threw bounded near the home base by a hair. Then Sato-san requested, ‘Another pitch!’ It was accepted and he was allowed to throw the second ball. Stirring himself up, he threw the ball again and it reached the batter successfully. But this time, another unusual thing happened. At the first pitch ceremony, it is customary for the batter to swing away. However, Watabe-san rightly got the bat on the ball. The truth is that they had made a previous arrangement that he would hit the ball because it would not be good to fan the air on the starting day of their drama. Sato-san ran up to the grounder, caught the ball, and went straight to touch Watabe-san as if hugging him. Thus the first-pitch ceremony full of exceptions was over. The spectators gave warm shower of applause to Sato-san and Watabe-san leaving the ground.
After the ceremony, Sato-san said, ‘There were a great many spectators and I felt a sense of mission, or pressure a lot. But I appreciate that they welcomed us warmly and the atmosphere at the stadium was good. I felt most nervous for the first time since I threw the ceremonial first ball last time. It is bad for my health (to get too nervous)…lol’.
Watabe-san gave us a comment; ‘I enjoyed myself very much. Since the shooting had been continuing, it made for a refreshing change and I was able to face a pitch feeling good. The spectators were so nice. Thank you for giving me such a wonderful experience.’
*note by steph*
Tsuba-Kuro is a mascot character of Yakult Swallows because we call a swallow ‘tsubame’ and ‘tsubakuro’ is another name for a swallow.