Japanese baseball teams in the Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) league have started to receive increased attention around the world. This is not only for the skill of the players, but also some of the team names. Many are comparable to teams in Major League Baseball (MLB) in the United States, such as the Hanshin Tigers and Yomiuri Giants matching the Detroit Tigers and the San Francisco Giants. Other Japanese team names catch foreigners off-guard, in particular the Hiroshima Toyo Carp and the Hokkaido-Nippon Ham Fighters. Yet, even for the matching teams, like the Tigers, Japanese baseball can be full of surprises.
Over the weekend, the Hanshin Tigers were playing the Tokyo Yakult Swallows in a tight game. During the top of the sixth inning, things started to get weird. From out of nowhere, a dead fish landed on the field. It was only a matter of seconds before the player standing closest, an outfielder for the Swallows, raised his arms and requested a timeout. The umpires quickly realized the problem: the dead fish was putrid and smelled terrible. While the game remained paused, an unlucky batboy was called to the outfield. He struggled for a few seconds before finally sweeping up the rotting fish carcass. The whole process took about three minutes before the game was able to resume.
After the game, officials consulted video footage of the bizarre incident. It showed the fish falling from the sky above the stadium, rather than having been thrown by a disgruntled fan. Speculation is that a bird was flying overhead when the fish slipped from its grasp. Possibly, to make amends from one bird to another, the Tokyo Yakult Swallows capitalized on the disruption by taking the lead in the bottom half of the inning. In the end, they went on to win the game 5-1.