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  • Posts Tagged ‘independent’

    Sidearm knuckler Eri Yoshida likely to pitch on 24 Mar

    Posted by japanstats on 2009 March 13日 Friday

    17 year old high school student, sidearm knuckleballer, and the first female Japanese professional baseball player Eri Yoshida is likely to see her first game action in the pre-season game for her Kobe 9Cruise on the road against the Kishu Rangers at the Kimiidera Stadium in Wakayama scheduled on March 24. Manager of Kobe, Yoshihiro Nakata, had mentioned that he wanted to test Eri in a game in the latter half of March, and this recently scheduled match against Kishu fits the bill.

    He’s also declared that Eri will pitch in the season opener on the 27th, this seems kinda gimmicky but it’s the independent Kansai League’s first year, so whatever gets the press eh. The season opener will be against the Osaka Villicanes at the sure to be cavernous for indie ball Kyocera Dome (!) at 18:15.



    Posted in 02_English, baseball, information, opinion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

    Submarine knuckleballer… and it’s a she!

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 November 17日 Monday

    This story is full of goodies for the obscure baseball lover.

    The newly formed Kansai Independent League, which will begin play in 2009, has just held its draft. This is the 3rd independent league in Japan to start operation this decade, after the pioneering Shikoku-Kyushu Island League and the Baseball Challenge League (Hoku-Shinetsu region).



    The Kansai league features the first female owner of a pro ball club in Japan as the Kobe 9Cruise (yes, that’s the team name) is owned by Kazuyo Hirota who runs a local mineral water company. The league held an open combined tryout on 4 November, and the draft on 16 November where Kobe selected Eri Yoshida, a 16 year old high school girl who is a submarine knuckleball pitcher (got all that?), with one of its picks after they saw what they liked in the tryout. Yoshida passed the first and second tests of the tryout, then pitched an inning where she struck out the first batter on a knuckler, walked the second batter, then got the next two batters to ground out to second and pop out to short.

    She received a compliment from a former Yomiuri player and new Osaka pitching coach that her knuckler and fastball both have the same delivery. Her fastball is in the high 60s, so I assume she relies almost entirely on the knuckler. It’s reported that she’s considering transferring to a Kobe high school, and indie games tend to be played on weekends, so I guess this could somehow all work out, it’ll an interesting story to follow as Yoshida becomes the first professional female baseball player in Japan (in a men’s league, there was a women’s league for 2 brief years following the war).

    Posted in 02_English, baseball, high school, information, opinion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

    Indie ball in the States and Japan

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 June 4日 Wednesday

    A great article and video by King Kauffman on the independent Golden League and its tryouts that were held recently (with a neat video).

    The Golden League was formed in 2005, one of a handful of circuits operating independently from Major League Baseball and its farm system. Crowds are small and so are salaries, but independent baseball generally offers great entertainment for fans. Prices are low, the atmosphere is intimate and, unlike in affiliated minor-league ball, the home team’s objective is to win games, not train players.

    And of course the independent leagues are at least as enthusiastic about wacky promotions and stunts as the affiliated minors. Golden League commissioner Kevin Outcalt said it was his idea two years ago to trade 60 cases of beer for a player, a move that made small headlines nationwide. The player was Nigel Thatch, the guy who played “Leon” in those Budweiser commercials a few years back.

    Thatch was a pitcher as well as an actor, toiling in the independent Northern League for the Schaumburg Flyers, near Chicago. He had requested a trade to a Los Angeles-area team so he could pursue acting work, so Outcalt agreed to arrange for a trade between Schaumburg and the Fullerton Flyers of the Golden League.

    Outcalt says that when his Schaumburg contact told him that Thatch wasn’t much of a player, he said, “‘Then let’s have some fun with it.’ So I offered to trade a pallet of beer for him. And then he got all bent out of shape about it and refused to report — which made it an even better story!”

    You might recognize the Schaumburg Flyers as the team that lets fans vote on lineup changes and such through a Web site.

    For all the fun, the independent leagues are serious business, especially for the players. Men who have washed out of affiliated ball or who have gone unsigned use them as a summer-long audition for big-league scouts, who pay attention. The Golden League sells about 20 contracts a year to big-league clubs, and while the relatively new circuit has yet to graduate a player to the majors, other independent leagues have sent a steady trickle of talent to the show, mostly relief pitchers.

    Baltimore Orioles closer George Sherrill played in both the Northern and Frontier leagues. His teammate Kevin Millar is also a Northern League vet. The Atlantic League has established itself as the go-to circuit for former big-league stars who want to keep their careers going. Rickey Henderson, Jose Canseco, John Rocker and Juan Gonzalez have all played there in the last few years. Henderson also spent time in the Golden League.

    Philadelphia Phillies backup catcher Chris Coste spent four years with the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks of the Northern League before embarking on a rambling journey through the farm systems of four organizations before Philadelphia called him up late in the 2006 season. He tells his story in a new book,“The 33-Year-Old Rookie: How I Finally Made it to the Big Leagues After Eleven Years in the Minors.”

    Incidentally the Golden League featured a travelling Japanese team called the Samurai Bears one season, managed by one time favourite Yomiuri Giant and Montreal Expo Warren Cromartie. The team started off ok, but eventually struggled to the bottom of the division, partially due to travel fatigue that always accompany travelling teams, not to mention playing in an entirely foreign country to boot.

    There are currently 2 independent baseball leagues in Japan. The Shikoku-Kyushu Island League with 6 teams (expanded into the island of Kyushu this year from just Shikoku island, hence the name), and the Baseball Challenge League which is located in north central Japan which also has 6 teams. These 2 leagues play an annual championship series, so essentially these unaffliated leagues are acting as the third or fourth tier of Japanese pro/semi-pro ball (NPB, farm leagues, and then industrial/college/independent leagues, will get more to the level of competition at each level in a future post as this one was supposed to be more about the Golden League tryouts video.) Incidentally, the Shikoku league has had players drafted into NPB, and even a player (pitcher and league MVP 2 years running, Terumasa Matsuo) signed by the Boston Red Sox.

    Posted in 02_English, baseball, culture, information, MLB, NPB, opinion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »