Free Announcer Aika Kanda “First Pitch Ceremony! | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Free Announcer Aika Kanda “First Pitch Ceremony!

No.53 - It's Me, Pink, and Sometimes New York

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Illustrations by Kanda-san

It was 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 4. Under a blue sky, I was standing on the mound at Mazda Stadium, home of the Hiroshima Toyo Carp. In my hands, an official professional baseball ball is large and slippery. I puffed on my rosin bag three times, just to be sure. In the batter’s box was Masashi Kuwahara, the No. 1 hitter for the Yokohama DeNA BayStars. (I said in my heart, “Please!) I bailed him out, saying in my mind, “Please! I was surprised to hear the applause more clearly than I had imagined (I didn’t know that the cheering could reach such a large audience!) I was surprised.

My mother has been a Carp fan for 50 years. When I was a child, I was allowed to watch only 30 minutes of television a day, but she made an exception for live broadcasts of professional baseball games. Because of this, by the time I was in junior high school, I loved watching baseball games. The Aika girl naturally became attached to the Carp.

My favorite players at the time were pitcher Yutaka Ono and catcher Mitsuo Tatsukawa, and after joining NHK, I attended a dinner with Mr. Ono, who was a professional baseball commentator. For nearly 20 years since then, I have called Mr. Ohno every year on his birthday to wish him “Happy Birthday! I have called him every year on his birthday to wish him a happy birthday.

I had been looking forward to the day when I would be invited to throw out the first pitch. Finally, the offer came. TV New Hiroshima had made the Carp’s game a “Poka Poka Day” in order to promote the program “Poka Poka. It was my long-cherished dream to throw out the first pitch, and on the home turf of the Carp! I was extremely happy. I’ve never thrown a hardball before, but I’ve been playing baseball with my brother since before I started kindergarten, and I even imitated a pitcher. (I’m going to make it!) (I’m going to make it work!),” he vowed, and then came the opening scene.

The umpire raised his right hand. I heard that the rule is to throw the ball promptly after this action. (All right, here we go!). I put my right hand holding the ball behind my waist and bent forward.

I really wanted to do something at this point. It was the “flow of not being able to make a sign very easily. When the catcher gives a sign for a pitch, if the pitcher thinks it is “different,” he shakes his head and asks for the sign to be re-signed. I have always admired this process because I felt the professional spirit in it.

However, I wondered if the audience would accept such antics by someone like me. When the time came to take the mound, I felt uneasy. (Don’t worry, Aika, don’t shrink!) (It’s okay, Aika, don’t shrivel up!) I told myself, “I’ll be fine,” and I hoped the 30,000-plus people in the audience would get the message. I shook my head widely. And then, “One more time, Aika! and shook her head again. I was too scared to remember the audience’s reaction. (Okay, let’s go for the next sign! Next sign and go!) and he shook his head widely at the third sign from Tsubasa Aizawa, the catcher, who had never actually sent it to him.

Cheering heard in the silence.

Then, when we got into our set positions, it was so quiet that you would have thought there was not a single spectator left. (I felt lonely. ), I heard a woman’s voice from somewhere saying, “Aika–! I heard a woman’s voice cheering “AICA! The voice was silent, but it was loud and clear. I huffed (Yes, it’s AICA!!!)! I’m AICA!) I replied in my heart. I felt a strange power on both shoulders, as if the entire audience was cheering for me, and I suddenly became very determined.

From that moment on, I remember it vividly. As my friend Shogo Akiyama had taught me during the pitching practice right before the game, I carefully but boldly threw a long ball, checking each movement of my arms and legs. The white ball went high, slowly parabolic, and went right to the catcher, Aizawa, without hesitation. (Please, please, reach it! Please reach me–!) (Please!)) And then, …… snap! The ball landed in the mitt, and there was a loud “OH!!!” from the stands. from the stands as the ball landed in the mitts. It was a high outside corner, just barely a strike. (It was decided!) (It’s decided!!!). When I looked at the video of that moment, when I shook my head, they were laughing. On the other hand, a voice was recorded saying, “Hurry up and throw it! (laugh).

On the ball I threw, Mr. Ohno and Mr. Tatsukawa, who were at the stadium for commentary, signed their autographs on it. The two of them will forever form a golden battery on the white ball I threw. They are treasures.

Furthermore, I heard that my pitching performance will be made into an official professional baseball card. I wanted to give them to my relatives and asked, “Could you give me just six cards for my personal use?” He said, “I will give you 100 cards. I was grateful, but that’s a lot! I wonder how I should handle them.

Kazuki Shimomura

Born in 1980 in Kanagawa Prefecture. After graduating from Gakushuin University with a degree in mathematics, she joined NHK as an announcer in 2003, and left in 2012 to become a freelance announcer. Since then, she has been active mainly in variety shows, and currently makes regular appearances as the main MC of the daytime TV program “Poka Poka” (Fuji Television Network).

Aika Kanda’s first book, “Where are you going on the road called Royal Road? will be released on July 8! Pre-orders are now available at bookstores nationwide and online!

From the June 7 and 14, 2024 issue of “FRIDAY

  • Illustrations and text by Aika Kanda

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