Sendai rejoices in Japan Series title


The tsunami-hit city of Sendai erupted in joy as its local club won Japan's professional baseball title for the first time ever Sunday, more than two years after the disaster.

The nine-year-old Rakuten Eagles, the youngest of Japan's 12 pro baseball clubs, beat the Tokyo-based Yomiuri Giants, the richest and oldest franchise, 3-0 at home in the final game of the best-of-seven Japan Series.

A standing-room-only crowd at the 24,000-seat Kleenex Stadium in the northern city rose to their feet in rain as Rakuten ace Masahiro Tanaka struck out pinch-hitter Kenji Yano with two outs after he was called up in the ninth inning as the closer.

The Sendai side, the Pacific League champions, wrapped up the series with four wins and three losses against the Giants, the Central League champions, who had sought a second straight Japan Series title, or their 23rd overall.

Rakuten manager Senichi Hoshino was tossed into the air by his players as numerous fans kept on roaring and slamming their balloon sticks in rain.

"Let us praise our players who have given courage to children in Tohoku, children across the nation and people in the disaster-hit area," the 66-year-old manager told the cheering crowd.

A massive 9.0-magnitude earthquake and ensuing monster tsunami devastated Japan's northeast coast on March 11, 2011, leaving more than 18,000 dead and sparking a meltdown crisis at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

Sendai's city center suffered limited damage due to the tremor, but its agrarian shoreline was washed away by the tidal wave with about 850 people killed and more than 100,000 houses damaged.

"I always wanted to comfort people by becoming the number one, although what we can do is minimal when compared with the extent of people's suffering in the disaster-hit area," said Hoshino, who took the helm at Rakuten in 2011.

"Ganbare (Stay strong), Tohoku," read banners and signs held by spectators and posted in Rakuten's dugout. A patch with the same phrase was sewn into the arm of the Rakuten jersey.

Tanaka, widely expected to move to the US major leagues next season, was the losing pitcher in a 4-2 defeat to the Giants the night before as he threw a whopping 160 pitches.

The loss ended his winning streak since August last year at 30 from regular and post-season games.

But the 25-year-old ace right-hander was sent to the mound in the ninth inning as a token of Hoshino's thanks for his service throughout the season.

"I was miserable yesterday but I was raring to go at any moment tonight," he said.

"Arigato (Thank you)," Rakuten fans shouted at Tanaka from the stand.

Tanaka shouted back, "Arigato."

"It has been the greatest season," he said.

© (c) 2013 AFP

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

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Sendai rejoices in Japan Series title

Sendai, MinamiSanriku, and countless other locations throughout Tohoku and Japan. Good to see foootage of various gatherings partying big time.

Congrats to Mami on the series MVP award.

As for the "Giants", the only thing giant about a number of them this series was their fat paycheck. Captain Abe and touted future captain Sakamoto were absolutely useless.

The "Giants" playing list was paid nearly twice the Rakuten list this year and paid a billion yen more than Chunichi who came in at second in the salaries. Rakuten was ranked 11th of 12 teams. Now that's return on investment!

All hail the Tohoku Eagles.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Great news. I missed the game due to being stuck on a plane but I'm sure my wife was dancing in the streets last night, or whatever Japanese do to celebrate these things. The other lot have the hubris to call themselves "giants", but the only thing giant about many of them is their waistlines.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Congrats to Mami on the series MVP award.

Oops, that should be Mima.

Norimoto also pitched well, and it was the first time in about 60 years that a first-year pitcher started in game 1 of the Japan Series.

Ma-kun got smacked for 11 hits in game 6, but they wouldn't have come this far without his otherwise perfect record this year.


1 ( +1 / -0 )

Congrats to Tohoku Eagles for their first win! My hats off to Hoshino Manager as he went with Ma-kun to redeem himself after the loss in game 6 to close out a superb season. This was nothing short of a team victory!!

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Omedettoh, Tohoku! Fantastic win - and dedicated to the many up in Tohoku who have had a tough few years. The Japanese certainly show their emotions and wear their hearts on their sleeves, it was heartwarming to see their old manager in tears as well as many in the crowd.

Will the big US MLB talent scouts now come knocking with their fat cheque books? I hope Rakuten can keep the team together as much as they can and create a dynasty.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Rakuten are a great team, and the good guys won rightfully this time. I think a few of the Giants might be heading for retirementt.....old and unfit this series.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Congratulations to the Rakuten Eagles of Sendai! Celebrating the victory of a sports team is one of the most potent morale-boosters there is for a city or region suffering from a disaster. I observed this in New Orleans when the Saints American football team won the NFL Superbowl shortly after hurricane Katrina. Boston, which had that awful bombing during the marathon last Spring, is experiencing a similar euphoria now following the Red Sox victory in the MLB World Series. Sendai and all of Tohoku will feel like they're going to be okay, and they will! Never underestimate the power of professional spectator sports to rally a city or region.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I am not gloating over the fact the Giants were taken down a peg, but I am certainly pleased with the win of the Eagles who put in everything they had plus some in the tournament.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

There is much rejoicing in Japan because the Yomiuri Giants--the New York Yankees of Japan--lost to a most deserving team. :-)

Besides the fact this is a huge morale booster for the hard-hit Tohoku region, there is a lot of historical dislike for the Giants because the Giants are owned a powerful media conglomerate, which gives the team a lot of advantages over most other teams in Japanese professional baseball.

3 ( +4 / -1 )


Rakuten does have sales?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Congrats to the Rakuten Eagles. You've come a long way and done very well. And it's nice to see the Giants put in their place once in a while.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Taking three teams to the Japan Series has to solidfy Hoshino as the best manager in the last 30 years or so.But what I wanna know is why Baka Hanshin management let him go.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Way to go Eagles ! And omedetou, Hoshino-kantoku ! Finally, for him, NIPPON ICHI ! ! ! He is still a "Giants Killer !"

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Congratulations on an amazing first time Japan Series, Eagles. I watched Game 6 and feared it might just slip away at the last, but a great way to bring it home and win in the 7th.

Next season is the year of the Carp! Finally broken the hoodoo of not playing in Climax Series in over a decade, next step first Japan Series since 1991!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It was a nail-biter, especially bringing in Ma-kun as the closing pitcher (not a good idea, IMHO - it could have gone real bad). But the win was great, and a boost to the spirit of Sendai.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

We watched the series in Christchurch New Zealand, We have just returned from a holiday in Sendai. We went to one of the games in Sendai, JUST GREAT !!! The people of Tohoku Prefecture have something to smile about, something to be proud about. We have an expression in Christchurch. KIA-KAHA, BE STRONG!! Well done TOHOKU RAKUTEN EAGLES

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Dear Zenji, My name is Simon and I am a journalist with the Sunday Star Times in New Zealand.

I would like to talk to you about your experience of both the Christchurch and Tohoku disasters.

I am currently in Kesennuma and would be keen to meet up with you if you are still around.



0 ( +0 / -0 )

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