Net users praise a touching gesture of humanity in difficult times.

The annual spring and summer Koshien tournaments, nicknamed after the Hanshin Koshien Stadium in Hyogo Prefecture where the final games are played, are the most prestigious amateur contests for the sport of baseball in Japan. Many young ball players make it their singular goal to play at Koshien, which unsurprisingly is also a common storyline within many baseball-centered manga and anime. To draw the distinction between the two, the National High School Baseball Invitational Tournament, otherwise known as Spring Koshien or Senbatsu, takes place annually in March. The National High School Baseball Championship, otherwise known as Summer Koshien, culminates in August of every year.

▼ Players pull out all the stops at Koshien, which is also the ultimate battle of the high schools watched by thousands of people across the country.

While March 19, 2020 was supposed to be the starting date of the 92nd Spring Koshien, the tournament has been canceled for the first time in history since its inception in 1924 due to ongoing concerns regarding the spread of the novel coronavirus. Although no tournaments were held during the years surrounding World War II, they were technically never planned to begin with so they never had to be canceled.

The tournament committee met in Osaka on March 11 to discuss the fate of Spring Koshien moving forward. While other options such as holding the tournament without spectators had previously been proposed, with recent governmental directives prohibiting large gatherings being extended and Nippon Professional Baseball postponing the opening day of their regular season from March 20 until April, it was determined that there was no other choice but to cancel the tournament completely.

In light of such devastating news for many high school baseball players who had spent their entire lives striving to compete in the tournament, one unidentified former female announcer known only as @manamama123 made a very special offer in the hopes of providing a brief moment of consolation for them:

“To high school baseball players:

This is what I can do as a former announcer. In a reply to this tweet or DM, send me your batting number, position, family name (or alias), and I will announce your introduction.

The recording that I send will be extremely simple but I hope that you can experience even a little bit of the atmosphere of being in the stadium. #Koshiencancelation” 

The above video provides a sample player introduction by @manamama123 as read in her former professional announcing voice. She soon posted a follow-up message to her account as well:

“Thank you for helping to spread my message. When I woke up this morning, there was a bigger response than I anticipated and I was a bit surprised.

Regarding this matter, it’s something I’m doing completely on my own and has zero connection to Koshien Stadium. Please refrain from directing questions to the stadium and other relevant parties because they are not involved.

1. I’m now raising children and have not done official announcing for many years, so I ask that you please watch over me kindly.
2. In order to protect your personal information, I will not announce your high school’s name. Only your batting number, position, and family name (or alias). 
3. The only quiet times I have for recording are when my children are asleep, so it may take me some time to respond. 
4. If there are too many requests I may have to suspend recording partway through.

Please note the above four points. Thank you very much for all of your kind words.” 

As of March 13, she’s recorded over 50 player introductions.

Net users were touched by her selfless gesture:

“Hopefully this will provide a moment of healing for those young athletes who were set to take the stage this week.”
“This is wonderful. I will also think about what I personally can do.”
“She’s so sweet to do something free of charge for all of the players who have had to suppress their tears.”
“It’s so sad to think that the athletes won’t be able to scoop up the dirt at the stadium this spring [a common tradition].”
“At the very least, it wasn’t the big [summer] tournament that was canceled. They still have some hope…!”

With more and more large events being canceled and facilities being shut down around the world due to the virus, it’s been hard to stay positive at times. Thank goodness there are people like @manamama123 who offer a small glimmer of hope to help everyone stay hopeful that things will be all right.

Source: Nikkan Sports via Hachima Kiko
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert image: Pakutaso
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