Japanese teams, fans bid fond farewell to retiring players
The Japan Times by Jason Coskrey Sep 26, 2016
Japanese baseball is in the season of goodbyes.
There are only a handful of games left for each of the 12 NPB clubs, and this is the time of year when teams and fans begin to bid farewell to some familiar faces.
No one plays the game forever. As the Hiroshima Carp’s Kris Johnson put it once, when speaking about 40-year-old veteran Hiroki Kuroda’s solid play, “this game is going to come to an end for you eventually.”
The date Kuroda will ride off into the sunset is still undetermined, but there are other veterans around Japan who are stepping onto the diamond for the last time.
For those players, the final stanza of the season is a chance for them to try to finish on a high note and, more importantly, a chance for the fans to say goodbye.
And Japanese baseball takes its goodbyes seriously.
Retiring stars in many sports, in many countries, are feted by the public as they step out of the spotlight. Japan is no different, and retiring players are often treated to grandiose farewell celebrations.
These “retirement games” allow those players, some of whom are far removed from meaningful, if any, playing time, one last star turn. Even those who retire over the offseason are often honored either at fan appreciation events or during a game in spring training the following year.
It’s almost a rite of passage in Japan.
Japanese baseball players and fans are famous for working hard and playing hard, so its no surprise they love hard as well, and touching farewells, both large and small in scale, will continue to be on tap as the season draws to a close.
(Read the full story on The Japan Times)