Masayoshi Miwa, Catcher?!

If you’re a nerdy Swallows fan like me, you occasionally scan through ni-gun boxscores to see who’s been playing on the farm. If you’re such a baseball nerd that you proudly display it in your handle, as Deanna “Marinerds” Rubin does, you GO to Toda to see who’s been playing on the farm. Deanna has been kind enough to pass on some peculiar photos she was able to take during a recent trip to a Swallows’ farm game.
Miwa catching at Toda

Look closely at that catcher. That’s not recently drafted Yudai Hoshino, Genki Nitta, or even recently-turned-bullpen-catcher Masakazu Fukukawa. That is infielder and pinch-runner Masayoshi Miwa donning the tools of ignorance. Miwa who often finds himself on the top team acting as a pinch-runner/defensive replacement is apparently catching for the first time since elementary school. This wasn’t merely pregame or on-the-side practice, Miwa actually started the game as catcher for the ni-gun Swallows. Apparently the idea was floated after the Aikawa injury, and Miwa caught some bullpen sessions. Without the 3-and-a-half-hour rule in effect and a shortage of catchers it seems the Swallows want to increase the potential flexibility of their lineup. The above picture may not give enough sense of scale but the action shots below show that Miwa is clearly undersized for the position. Miwa is listed at 70 kilos while the typical catcher tends to weight at least 80 kilos.

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Apparently Miwa didn’t look horrible and may be serviceable as an emergency catcher. The team will apparently give Miwa opportunities to catch bullpen and occasionally practice fielding. Deanna notes that Miwa was practicing fielding pop fouls prior to the game, and wasn’t looking too good.

While we applaud the effort, hopefully Miwa will never actually have to catch for the top team.

About Kozo Ota

Kozo Ota is a third-generation Swallows fan that grew up on Montreal Expos baseball. (You can read more about that here.) When he's not at Jingu, he works as a freelance translator/interpreter to make enough money to go to Jingu. You can find random posts by Kozo on Google+ and Twitter.

  • FLR

    What’s the story about catching a game at Toda?I hear it’s free. Is there ample parking there? Ok, I see huge but gated parking lots on Google maps. Where exactly is the baseball field in the park area?I see that there is a facility marked ヤクルト戸田球場 (on the inland side of the road) away from the river but I thought it was right on the river. 35.822572, 139.634063

    • Kozo

      I’ve never attended by car, so I don’t know the parking situation at Toda. The Swallows’ site does list parking rates, so I assume parking is available. The field is indeed the one listed as ヤクルト戸田球場 on the map. The games are free to watch, but formal seating is limited. There’s a hill overlooking the field, and people can and do set up blue sheets and lawn chairs to watch the game.

      The Swallows just announced a couple of new tickets for weekend games at Toda which would allow you to play catch with players/coaches, or run the bases.

    • There’s parking, yeah. It’s kinda far from the train but you can take a bus (I took the 01 from Musashi-Urawa) and you still have to walk like 10 mins from “Green Park Iriguchi” stop. There’s not a ton of seating — basically some upper bleachers behind homeplate that seat around 150? 200? people or so, and maybe 3-4 benches behind homeplate on the ground. Lots of standing room, especially along the first base line… and lots of seating if you want to go sit up the hill as Kozo mentioned. It’s a decent place to meet players too — the Swallows clubhouse is off from the field so they all walk to/from it. I met Shingo Kawabata before the game on Tuesday and can now die happy.

      But yeah, your best bet is to show up early if you want to get seats, and who knows how this new “weekend ticket” thing is going to change stuff.