What works for little kids, often doesn’t hold up in your 40s.

There’s something undeniably wholesome about playing catch. The quaint act of throwing a ball back and forth with someone has been a relaxing pastime of parents with children and schoolyard chums since time immemorial. In fact, many a childhood friendship was forged just by one kid asking another passing by if they wanted to throw the ball around for a bit.

However, after a certain age such a proposition stops being charming and starts getting creepy. It’s not clear where this line is exactly, but we’ve just determined that 40 is way beyond it.

On 9 May, in Anjo City, Aichi Prefecture, a woman was passing through a park in the Asahimachi district when a man suddenly called out to her. “Why don’t we play catch?” asked the man described as about 40 with brown salt-and-pepper hair, adding, “Come on, just one throw!”

Although the man was indeed holding a baseball glove and ball, it was still weird enough to compel the woman to report it to nearby police. Netizens, however, were somewhat divided over the suspiciousness of an adult man asking an adult woman to toss around a baseball.

“He wanted to play catch. That’s nice, isn’t it?”
“That used to happen all the time when I was a kid, but this is really different.”
“Maybe he was just looking for someone to play catch with…”
“They are in a park after all. That seems like a reasonable request in a park.”
“It is hard to make friends.”
“He said ‘just one throw’ but you know he wouldn’t let her go that easily.”
“That’s the first time I heard that pick-up line.”
“Looks like the police want to play ‘catch’ with him now.”
“This seems like something a YouTuber might do.”
“People are saying this is no big deal, but I’m sure if this guy called out to you, you wouldn’t want anything to do with him either.”

Anjo isn’t an especially large city but it’s hardly Mayberry either and people would still tend to keep to themselves there, especially in Japan where keeping to oneself is so stringently practiced that one guy chose to car-bomb someone rather than complain about their parking to their face. So, asking random strangers to play together is pretty much universally understood as unusual behavior here that potentially hides some ulterior motive.

This, of course, creates a sad state of affairs for adults who are genuinely in need of a catch partner, or are firmly committed to using catch as a sincere way to break the ice with potential dating partners. Luckily for these people, there’s still the old “wayward throw” trick.

▼ “Little help…”

This is a great non-confrontational way to gauge how interested someone might be in an actual game of catch while also giving them an opportunity to ignore you completely by pretending they didn’t see the ball. In doing so, you also greatly reduce your risk of landing on police watch lists.

Source: Gaccom Anzen Navi, Hachima Kiko
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert images: Pakutaso (1, 2)
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