It’s no secret that The Hawaii Herald has frequently blogged about Japanese baseball. But professional fastpitch softball? That’s a first for us.
Enter Kristen Bell, catcher and team captain of the Akron Racers, a professional women’s fastpitch softball team. According to this article by Mike D’Agruma, Bell spent the off-season playing softball for Denso Japan in Kariya City, where she said she felt just like Tom Selleck’s character in Mr. Baseball. Bell was the team’s first ever international player, which forced the power-hitting catcher to immerse herself in the Japanese culture. Of course, the learning experience went both ways, says D’Agruma:
Starting in January, she chose to live in the Denso team house and soak up the culture. She chose to start Japanese classes while finding inventive ways to communicate with her teammates. She chose to learn their way of softball, their strategies, their training regimen, their customs.
But she served as teacher as well. Butler said that as much as she wanted and loved to learn from her teammates, they were the same way. And so she answered all their questions. She let them look at her pictures and listen to her music. She taught them the “Soulja Boy” and some line dances to “Sweet Home Alabama.”
But the main difference between pro softball in Japan and the U.S.? Theme music.
When Bell steps up to the plate in America, the stadium plays her trademark song “American Woman” by Lenny Kravitz. In Japan, a live band with huge drums actually plays the song. Talk about culture shock.