2020 Spring Tokyo Big6 Baseball League Held in Midsummer
August 21, 2020
The 2020 Spring Tokyo Big6 Baseball League that had been postponed following the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus disease) was held from Monday, August 10 to Tuesday, August 18. Although the Keio University Baseball Club regrettably missed out on successive championships, the team finished second in the league with a record of four wins and one defeat.
This season's league was originally scheduled to be held in mid-April, but after exploring when it would be feasible to hold the baseball games after repeated postponements, it was decided to move the league to August and to hold a round-robin tournament of one game between each team (five games per university). It is 74 years since the tournament was last held in this style, and the fifth time overall. In addition, measures against infection were put in place including limiting the number of spectators to 3000 people, conducting temperature checks before entry to the venue, and ensuring everyone in attendance wore a mask and refrained from cheering the teams or singing supporter songs.
Chasing a consecutive championship, the Keio Baseball Club faced Waseda in the "sokeisen" (Waseda-Keio Baseball Games) on Saturday, August 15 after winning their first three games.
Before the game, a ceremony was held to commemorate the inauguration into the Baseball Hall of Fame of former Keio University Baseball Club coach, the late Yukichi Maeda, and former Waseda University Baseball Club coach, the late Renzo Ishii, adding extra splendor to this classic contest. The six successive games held between Keio and Waseda in the fall of 1960, in which these two coaches faced off, are still remembered as famous tussles.
In the game, although Keio University led thanks to a two-run homerun hit by Kanta Niimi in the top of the third inning, Waseda scored one run a piece in the bottom of the third and sixth, ensuring the contest was tenuously poised. After scoring an additional run in the top of seventh, Waseda again caught up in the bottom of the ninth inning, and the game went into a tie-break; however, Keio was able to pull away through a two-run RBI in the top of the tenth inning, brilliantly winning this closely fought contest 5-3.
In the deciding game on the following day, Sunday, August 16, against Hosei University, which pitted the two remaining undefeated teams against each other, Keio lost 4-7 despite having taken an early 3-run lead. Although the Keio Baseball Club regrettably missed out on consecutive championships, the players fought through the sweltering heat until the very end and received a warm round of applause from the spectators.
Players offering a silent prayer before the game against Waseda University on August 15, the anniversary of the end of the war
Ceremony commemorating the late Yukichi Maeda's and Renzo Ishii’s inauguration into the Baseball Hall of Fame (Aug. 15)
Shota Masui who served as the first pitcher in the sokeisen (Aug. 15)
Noriyuki Hashimoto who hit a 2-run RBI triple in the top of the tenth inning (Aug. 15)
Junki Namai who shut out Waseda's attack in the bottom of the tenth (Aug. 15)
The players celebrating their victory in the sokeisen (Aug. 15)
View from the stands (Aug. 15)
Shogo Fukui who hit a double in the bottom of the second inning during the Keio-Hosei game (Aug. 16)
Naofumi Kizawa took the mound in the top of the ninth (Aug. 16)
Players receiving a round of applause from the spectators after the Keio-Hosei game (Aug. 16)