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old ball by Takuya Abe used under creative commons licence
Everyone suddenly burst out singing;
And I was filled with such delight
As prisoned birds must find in freedom
Winging wildly across the white
Orchards and dark-green fields; on; on; and out of sight.
Siegfried Sassoon, Everyone Sang
The language of the game is interesting. You can think of the pauses as caesuras, breaks between the lines. As a poem the game is composed of a number of short lines representing the pitches. The number of lines per batter form a stanza. Then there is a space. Sometimes the stanzas become breathless, rushing full paragraphs that build rapidly on each other until the poem-inning explodes.
In baseball, home plate is where you begin your journey and also your destination. You venture out onto the bases, to first and second and third, always striving to return to the spot from which you began. There is danger on the basepath - pick-offs, rundowns, force-outs, double plays - and safety only back at home. I am not saying, as a true fan would, that baseball is the key to life; rather, life is the key to baseball. We play or watch this game because it draws pictures of our desires.
Calamus Gladio Fortior - The pen is mightier than the sword
Motto of Keio University
I'm British. So I don't know much about baseball. I picked up the rules roughly by occasionally listening to games on the armed forces radio in Japan. The announcers were great. They painted vivid word pictures of the games. The duel between the pitcher and the batter seemed to be much more intense than in the English game cricket.
Then I eventually got to see my first game. It was in the old Giants stadium before the Tokyo Dome was built. The Yomiuri Giants against the Hanshin Tigers. The Giants are the most popular team in Tokyo and the Tigers are the most popular team in Osaka. There is a fierce rivalry between the teams. That day there was a fight between the groups of supporters.
A few days ago I saw a movie called The Last Game: Waseda vs. Keio. In Japanese the title is Last Game - Saigo no Soukeisen. Sou is the on reading of the Wa in Waseda and Kei is the first syllable of Keio.
The Last Game is about the baseball clubs at these two famous Tokyo universities. It's set in 1943 against the background of World War II. Many of the students were about to be called up. Baseball itself was criticized as trivial and even un-Japanese by the authorities. But eventually, knowing that some of the students would not come back from the war, the two universities managed to arrange a game. The last game.
The score wasn't important. There was a moving moment at the end of the game when the students of each university showed their respect by singing the other university's school song. Some of the players died in the war. Perhaps because of the impending tragedy of war the movie transcends the usual formula of sports movies. One of the main characters is played by Ken Watanabe's son Dai.
Keio University and Waseda University are both there in the history books of aikido.
For example Koichi Tohei Sensei the founder of the Ki Society and Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido went to Keio University. So did Koretoshi Maruyama Sensei the founder of Aikido Yuishinkai.
Kenji Tomiki Sensei, the founder of Tomiki-style/Shodokan Aikido was a graduate of Waseda and taught aikido there.
The second Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba also went to Waseda. He was an undergraduate at Waseda at the time of the last game. Perhaps he even went to see it. Perhaps he even sang Keio's school song.