The National High School Baseball Championship (Summer Koshien) is a big deal in Japan. Baseball itself is one of Japan’s most popular sports, but the amount of attention and enthusiasm showered on the Summer Koshien is something to behold. The tournament involves 49 schools across the country and it symbolizes regional pride. It is a lot of pressure for the young men and the emotion is very evident in the wins and losses.
The tournament structure has the first round pairings and byes decided by lottery. In the first round 34 teams play each other and 15 teams with byes join at the second round. About 5 or 6 wins are usually needed to win the tournament. Code of conduct for the tournament is strict for both players and fans. Respect is shown towards each other before, after, and during the games. For example, if a pitcher hits a batter the pitcher will respectfully tip their hat in apology. Bowing to each other in respect is also important before the game starts, which is done in front of the crowd in a ceremonial way.
The 97th Summer Koshien tournament will start on August 6th 2015 and cover a 15 day stretch. Taking place during the Summer vacation for high school, which is short compared to countries like the United States, the players have a tremendous workload. Adding to the fact that they play in high pressure games during their Summer break, the intense heat and humidity make it a grueling test. There is definitely a little controversy about how much mental and physical strain is put on such young people.
Japan has become a robust source of baseball talent and therefore Major League scouts attend the Summer Koshien in hopes of seeing the future Ichiro or Matsuzaka. A number of future Major League stars began their notoriety by starring National High School Baseball Championship. Games are held at Hanshin Koshien Stadium, a professional stadium, located in Nishinomiya City. Using Twitter data from professional scouts and sports writers, top players and match ups were determined according to Sponichi.
Japan High School Baseball: Top Match Ups
- August 25 – Mie vs Osaka Toin
- August 24 – Tsuruga Kehi vs Osaka Toin
- August 12 – Fujishiro vs Osaka Toin
- August 13 – Koryo vs Mie
- August 24 – Nihon Bunri vs Mie