baseball

High school baseball championship sets record for longest game: 50 innings and four days

29 Comments

Nanshiki baseball is a variation of the sport unique to Japan where the game is played with a rubber ball rather than the typical hardball or softball. Although it’s not nearly as popular as the other sports, the competition can be fierce especially among the younger players. One example of this can be found in the 59th National High School Nanshiki Baseball Championships semifinals wherein one game turned into a 50-inning and four-day long test of endurance. And as if that wasn’t enough, the winner of that game had to proceed to the final round only a few hours after finishing.

■ The first 30 innings

The game was between Chukyo of Gifu Prefecture with Matsui pitching and Sotoku from Hiroshima Prefecture who had Ishioka on the mound. Both pitchers threw for the entire 50 innings. By the end of the 45th inning, the pair had thrown a combined 1,252 pitches to 225 batters.

The game originally started on 28 August and went 15 innings without any runs scored. As a result, the rest of the game was pushed to the following day where another 15 innings were played with a 0-0 result. A further 15 innings were played on Aug 30 which was when cracks were beginning to show in the previously impervious defenses.

■ The next 15 innings

In the 31st inning, Chukyo managed to get a runner on second but was struck out by Ishioka before he could get past home plate. In the 34th inning, an opportunity presented itself to Sotoku when a batter managed to hit a triple. Chukyo attempted to pull a squeeze play, but Ishioka was able to avoid the bunt by throwing outside. Next Chukyo attempted to end the game with a hit and run, but the batter went for the swing and failed to connect with the ball and the runner was tagged out.

By the end of the game on Aug 30, the teams were still locked in a 0-0 draw. Both teams met on the field where the two worn-down pitchers exchanged pleasantries of “See you next time” and “Yup, see you then.”

■ Preparing for the final 15

The game on Sunday was to be the last. If a winner wasn’t decided, then the winning team would be determined by a lottery drawing (essentially, just picking a name out of a hat). The game had so far gone into 45 innings which would tie it for the longest game in Nanshiki baseball in terms of innings. On September 20, 1983, a game between the Raito Kyogo (Tokyo) and Tanaka Hospital (Miyazaki) went for 45 innings and lasted eight hours and 19 minutes.

In the lead up to the final game, both pitchers were feeling the pain of constant throwing. Matsui was experiencing back pain and receiving therapy between games. He said to his teammates that if they won through his pitching he’d prefer they lift the coach up in celebration instead because he probably wouldn’t be able to take the pain. It was a sentiment that moved his coach to tears.

Meanwhile, Sotoku’s Ishioka remained upbeat saying, “It’s really hard, but I’m having fun.” The entire team has been putting on a brave face in light of the tragic landslides that hit their prefecture earlier this month. They needed all the energy they could muster to bring some good news back home.

As the 46th inning began, the stands were packed to watch the results. The score remained locked until the top of the 50th when Chukyo found themselves with bases loaded and no outs from an infield single and two walks. At that time, Goto hit a double and finally batted in the first two runs of this four-day game. Later on another point was scored off an infield grounder.

■ Right into the finals

At the bottom of the 50th those runs would go unanswered and the game was mercifully ended with Chukyo victorious by 3-0. Although, Ishioka and the rest of Sotoku would return to Hiroshima empty handed, they could certainly keep their heads up knowing they gave it their all.

Matsui on the other hand had to get ready to head back out onto the field that same day in the final match against Miura Gakuen from Kanagawa. Perhaps spurred on by their extended win over Sotoku, Chukyo won again 2-0 scoring runs in the sixth and seventh innings and holding Miura Gakuen off for the rest of the game.

And so we’d like to congratulate Chukyo and Matsui on an undisputedly hard-fought win in the 59th National High School Nanshiki Baseball Championships.

_Sources: Hachima Kiko, Twitter – @nanshikibb, Nikkan Sports

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29 Comments
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Both pitchers threw for the entire 50 innings. By the end of the 45th inning, the pair had thrown a combined 1,252 pitches to 225 batters.

I don't care if they're pitching slow and underhand, that's insane.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Both pitchers threw for the entire 50 innings. By the end of the 45th inning, the pair had thrown a combined 1,252 pitches to 225 batters.

This should be called child abuse. Just shows how boring baseball can be. 49 innings without a single point???

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Four days of people standing around doing very little in a field? One more day and we could've called it cricket.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Isn't this just "softball"?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Probie, they don't have points in baseball. They score runs. And actually, scoreless games are very exciting. Imagine a game where one mistake could be the end. A nail biter. But I agree with the comments about child abuse. I guess in Japan, they feel that kids' arms are indestructible.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Why do some of you say this is child abuse? If a high schooler runs to the point of exhaustion (as the distance runners do) - is that child abuse? Or a tennis player? This sort of performance is what athletes sometimes do.

This is it for these kids - they don't have an athletic career after this tournament. They are out there because they want to be there for their teammates and their school.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

that is how champions are forged...love the fighting spirit of both the teams. Pretty rare in Japan these days !

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Why do some of you say this is child abuse? If a high schooler runs to the point of exhaustion (as the distance runners do) - is that child abuse? Or a tennis player? This sort of performance is what athletes sometimes do.

Because the kids who run to the point of exhaustion etc doesn't have to do it every day for 4 days or whatever. Which also leads to your next point:

This is it for these kids - they don't have an athletic career after this tournament. They are out there because they want to be there for their teammates and their school.

The pitchers probably won't have. Since they probably have messed-up shoulders from all that throwing.

Probie, they don't have points in baseball. They score runs.

Run/point = the same thing.

And actually, scoreless games are very exciting. Imagine a game where one mistake could be the end. A nail biter.

That must be a baseball fan's perspective. Because scoreless baseball games are even more boring than regular baseball games, which are like sleeping pills to me ;)

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Because the kids who run to the point of exhaustion etc doesn't have to do it every day for 4 days or whateve

Just goes to show how much you are ignorant of how Japanese sports in school are run. Yes they do, btw, run to the point of exhaustion for at least 4 days, and many times as much as 7 days, before meets or contests. Which also leads to your next point:

The pitchers probably won't have. Since they probably have messed-up shoulders from all that throwing. Try to understand the game you are talking about before making assumptions about their health. Sure they are probably tired and sore, BUT until you know the difference between nanshiki and koushiki baseballs your comments are off base here.

Run/point = the same thing.

Not even close, you score runs in baseball not points and that is universally known. Using your logic a basketball game score could be 115 runs to 110 runs....very much NOT the same thing. There is a reason for the terminology.

That must be a baseball fan's perspective. Because scoreless baseball games are even more boring than regular baseball games, which are like sleeping pills to me ;)

Then why pray tell are you commenting about a subject you are obviously ignorant about, like you know what you are talking about?

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

The pitchers probably won't have. Since they probably have messed-up shoulders from all that throwing.

No, they won't have because this is essentially a softball game, not a baseball game with a possible career path to a pro position.

This is not "real" baseball. It's basically a different sport with the samde rules.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

No more bickering please.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The article states that Chukyo is from Gifu prefecture. I believe that may be mistaken. I am ALMOST sure it is Aichi-ken !

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Gifu is correct.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The article states that Chukyo is from Gifu prefecture. I believe that may be mistaken. I am ALMOST sure it is Aichi-ken !

Chukyo University is in Aichi, and it has an attached High School as well, you are NOT mistaken. However the team that played in this marathon was from Gifu.

http://www.chukyo-ch.ed.jp/

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I played in a lot of 'nanshiki' baseball games and NEVER did the game go more than 7 innings. There was a time rule that prohibited the game to be played longer. I see this game was played on a larger scale and thus a winner had to be decided. We used to decide games by rock, hammer and scissors between the captains, but I always felt it was unfair either way. This game is unthinkable to me. Were they using bats to hit the balls thrown them? Truly amazing line score! Everyone had to have blisters of some kind! Gokurosama!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This should be called child abuse.

Only because it is incredibly dull. Throwing a ball under arm is never going to cause damage or physiological exhaustion.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Thanks, Yubaru !

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It's not softball and both pitchers were throwing overhand.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Just goes to show how much you are ignorant of how Japanese sports in school are run. Yes they do, btw, run to the point of exhaustion for at least 4 days, and many times as much as 7 days, before meets or contests. Which also leads to your next point:

I've never been in a Japanese school, not do I ever want to.

Not even close, you score runs in baseball not points and that is universally known. Using your logic a basketball game score could be 115 runs to 110 runs....very much NOT the same thing. There is a reason for the terminology.

Semantics. Baskets are points too. Calling them "runs" would be stupid. Run>point, not point>run.

Then why pray tell are you commenting about a subject you are obviously ignorant about, like you know what you are talking about?

You are very passionate for a baseball fan. You should try hockey, it's more interesting.

Anyway, they should have made both teams the winner after it was still 0-0 afier 25 innings or something.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

**It is not softball, the pitching mechanics are the same as hardball and the ball weighs basically the same it just has a reduced injury factor with regard to being hit by a pitch or struck by a line drive. This is a quote from a Johns Hopkins paper on the subject:

"The growth plate is a specialized part of the bone located near the joint which is where growing of the bones occurs (Figure I). This area is not as strong as the bone, ligaments or tendons. As a result, when the shoulder or elbow feels the stress of a baseball pitch, the growth plate is affected by this stress more than the other structures. This is only a problem if the stress occurs too frequently and if the stress is large. Players who pitch are at risk the most for these problems because they throw hard and often. This is one of the reasons that the number of innings (and hopefully the number of pitches) allowed by a player are limited by league rules."

So, yes, requiring a young arm to throw that many pitches is a form of abuse and can lead to permanent damage.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

As a long-time player of nanshiki yakyu, let me clarify one point for people claiming that this sport is somehow related to softball: it isn't. It's baseball.

The ball was invented in 1919 by a certain rubber-making corporation specifically for use in amateur baseball; it weighs the same as a cork-rubber-and-horsehide ball and is the same size, but is much cheaper to make and can be washed, making it ideal for baseball on a budget.

You wouldn't think so given the increase in rubber in the ball's composition, but it actually wasn't as "lively" as a real baseball originally -- turns out that the rubber flattens out more than the string and horsehide do. So the ball has been tweaked over the years so that it better approximates a real ball.

And come on, Probie, you of all people should appreciate the beauty of a low-scoring game. Imagine two indefatigable goalies making save after save, stopping shot after shot, with the tension steadily building as the fans start to wonder who will finally put the puck in the net and break the scoreless deadlock? I enjoyed watching many such games in the Stanley Cup playoffs in the 1990s, where seemingly every game was a multiple-overtime low-scoring nail-biter. It was great, and so was this extra-inning baseball marathon.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Throwing a baseball is an inherently destructive act. Doing it repeatedly, to the point where one kid needed therapy between games, is abuse. That's why they have pitch counts everywhere else... except Japan.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Semantics. Baskets are points too. Calling them "runs" would be stupid. Run>point, not point>run.

Semantics? You are the one that made, excuse me TRIED to make the point that (get it?) that runs and points were the same thing. Your logic is flawed and wrong.

Geez lets take your flawed logic and argument that points and runs are the same thing one step further and apply it to your hockey scenario............RUN scored! Your argument not mine. You were wrong, plain and simple.

I've never been in a Japanese school, not do I ever want to.

Then stop making judgments and comments about things you know nothing about. You make across the board claims that are blatantly false, learn to live with being corrected, you MIGHT actually learn something.

You should try hockey, it's more interesting.

Your opinion, not a fact.

Anyway, they should have made both teams the winner after it was still 0-0 afier 25 innings or something.

Again using your logic, if this was to happen, for the sake of discussion here, how would the two teams play the next game, which was the championship game of the tournament. What you suggest here is impossible.

Be like the semi-finals of the Frozen Four being the FINAL match because neither team could end up scoring. Never happen. (See I know the difference between a run, a point, and a goal, and quite a few others too, if you are interested in educating yourself let us know I am sure there are plenty that would help to train you!)

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Talk about laying it out on the field. Jesus, 50 innings is crazy. Give those pitchers several weeks off while at the same time conduct a 3 a day practice on those hitters. If you can't score against the same team in 49 innings, something is seriously wrong with the mechanics and mental makeup on your hitters.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Throwing a baseball is an inherently destructive act... That's why they have pitch counts everywhere else...

I am trying to understand the lesson that is trying to be conveyed with allowing pitchers to essentially destroy their young arms with hundreds of pitches. It almost appears as though there is brainwashing going on. It is as if destruction of an individual is acceptable if the team or group gets ahead. Unfortunately, baseball is a game where one team will be assured of losing, so one team will certainly not get ahead, which will mean the sacrifice was pointless.

What about the responsibility of a parent witnessing the harming of a son's pitching arm? Are they supposed to go along with it for the good of everyone involved? The "good" being the furtherance of this romantic fantasy of "fighting spirit" that was brainwashed into their elders. That's all it is -- a romantic fantasy.

And once that utter crap is cut out of the equation, perhaps the human mind can be given a chance to better understand the mechanics of pitching -- and develop a platoon of good pitchers while minimizing the damage to any of them.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

why not have the coaches pitch the last innings where you have each batter bat the team who hit the ball the further or get their running is the highest scoring position wins after each team sends 3 batters to the plate to bat the runner that gets the furthest is the team that wins

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

After 15 innings start with a runner on second, if no one scores by the 18th start with one on third.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

This raises the question of is it acceptable to put young players through this? It also raises the question of what is the best way to end a game? is 50 innings too much? What about 100 innings? What if a pitcher had thrown his arm out during this contest, would it have raised any questions about the ethics of putting an athlete out for such a prolonged period of time day after day for 4 days? Interesting article on the best way to end a game here: http://yfo.re/PerfectEnd

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Yubaru

Yes. Semantics.

Geez lets take your flawed logic and argument that points and runs are the same thing one step further and apply it to your hockey scenario............RUN scored! Your argument not mine. You were wrong, plain and simple.

Well, I would say that you don't "run" in hockey, so that is an invalid point. But, that would be semantics again. I get your point, but it's wrong.

Then stop making judgments and comments about things you know nothing about. You make across the board claims that are blatantly false, learn to live with being corrected, you MIGHT actually learn something.

You could be right.

Again using your logic, if this was to happen, for the sake of discussion here, how would the two teams play the next game, which was the championship game of the tournament. What you suggest here is impossible.

It was a KIDS tournament, not the World Series.

Be like the semi-finals of the Frozen Four being the FINAL match because neither team could end up scoring. Never happen. (See I know the difference between a run, a point, and a goal, and quite a few others too, if you are interested in educating yourself let us know I am sure there are plenty that would help to train you!)

A hockey game would take 4 days to decide a winner. It's far harder on the body than baseball/softball where you get to sit down for most of the game and only really run a short distance every couple of minutes. Pitchers have a hard time though. Especially in Japan.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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