I am not the most qualified person to write this post, but since my husband is always busy doing his two jobs, I will take a stab at it.
We didn’t have a chance to go to a baseball game last fall, so we really wanted to go this year. Robert’s birthday was coming up (and he loves baseball) and my niece was coming out for a visit, so I thought this would be the perfect time to go. The Yahoo! Dome stadium is only a couple of miles away from where we live and Fukuoka’s baseball team is actually pretty darn good. It just so happened that they became the Pacific League Champions after their previous game. The boys live and breathe baseball here…way more than in the USA. They practice ALL the time and for many hours, so we thought the PROS would be amazing to watch.
It was an afternoon game, and we had just come from visiting the fish market. It was a lovely afternoon, and we had a couple hours to spare so we picked up our tickets and had some lunch before the game. The “official” English website said we weren’t allowed to bring in food or drinks, but we had extra munchies and brought them in with us anyway. Within a few minutes of finding our seats, it was obvious that the official “Japanese” website said to ‘Bring in all the food and drinks you can carry’, because they were feasting.
The father and son to our right had brought in 50 posters to hold up at various parts of the game. Young ladies and gents were carrying around kegs of beer to sell beer to the fans. Everyone came dressed in Hawks shirts (even though very few were actually in the Hawks color yellow. Most were wearing baby blue or pink…we couldn’t figure that one out.) They all also carried in a set of small plastic bats, which they pounded together constantly every time the Hawks were up at bat.
The visiting team was never introduced or recognized. They had a small cheering section in the back (probably the band that travels with them everywhere they go.) When the visiting team was at bat, everyone was busy talking and pretty much ignoring what was going on for the most part. However, when the Hawks were at bat, everyone stood up and followed the cheers of the main cheerleader who was equipped with a megaphone. They would chant the name of the player up at bat until he either got a hit or an out. This could have been a completely boring game had there not been the home run and extra runs batted in by the home team. The English speaking announcer was also annoyingly weird and way too perky.
Then really strange things started happening. At the bottom of the sixth, despite a no-hitter, the pitcher was replaced. Then right before the seventh inning stretch, blue and yellow balloons were being blown up by fans all around us. The man behind us gave us some balloons to blow up too. All of these balloons were released at the same time. My niece was very concerned about the spit that was going to be released, but these are special balloons with a protective white mouth piece that prevents such an unsanitary event. With the Hawks up by 5 and the visiting team looking weak, we expected some people to start leaving… but NO ONE did. Even at the end of the game, with a guaranteed win….still NO ONE was leaving. We had to stay, curious as to why. Well, we got to experience another balloon blow-up and release (mostly white balloons this time), followed by fireworks, and then a ceremonial opening of the dome’s ceiling. They still weren’t leaving, but we had had enough at this point, so we did.