Kōshien baseball tournament
High school baseball tournaments held in Japan / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
In Japan, Kōshien (甲子園) generally refers to the two annual baseball tournaments played by high schools nationwide culminating at a final showdown at Hanshin Kōshien Stadium in Nishinomiya, Hyogo, Japan. They are organized by the Japan High School Baseball Federation in association with Mainichi Shimbun for the National High School Baseball Invitational Tournament in the spring (also known as "Spring Kōshien") and Asahi Shimbun for the National High School Baseball Championship in the summer (also known as "Summer Kōshien").
Both of these nationwide tournaments enjoy widespread popularity similar to that of NCAA March Madness in the United States, arguably equal to or greater than professional baseball. Summer qualifying tournaments are televised locally and each game of the Spring and Summer tournaments at Kōshien are televised nationally on NHK alongside the TV channels Associated to organizer newspapers the tournaments. The tournaments have gone on to become national traditions, and large numbers of frenzied students and parents travel from their hometowns to cheer for their local team. It is common to see players walking off the field in tears after being eliminated from the tournament by a loss, especially on Summer Tournament, since it symbolizes the 3rd Year players retirement from High School Baseball.
The star players of the championship team will achieve a degree of celebrity status. For players, playing at Kōshien becomes a gateway to playing at the professional level. Due to the recruiting practices of Japanese high schools, top prospects often play on strong teams that were able to reach the final tournament at Kōshien. Many professional baseball players first made their mark at Kōshien, including Eiji Bandō, Sadaharu Oh, Koji Ota, Suguru Egawa, Masumi Kuwata, Kazuhiro Kiyohara, Hideki Matsui, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Yu Darvish, Masahiro Tanaka, Yusei Kikuchi, and Shohei Ohtani.