On the Road with Bobby V. and Frank Ramppen

Stamford native Bobby Valentine blogs about life and baseball from the Land of the Rising Sun

Calling in the lineup, or, The dangers of GPS

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Monday and Tuesday were off days.  We practiced on Monday and had the day completely free on Tuesday. Bobby and I worked out at Gold’s gym. Our little town of Makuhari actually has 2 Gold’s gyms. The older of the 2 is on the 33 floor of the WBG (World Business Garden) building and offers a fantastic panoramic view of the surrounding area, overlooking our stadium, Tokyo bay, Tokyo in the distance, and on a clear day, you can even see Mt. Fuji.

Back in January of 2004, my second day in Japan, Bobby and I went to Gold’s for a workout and were very lucky to see a perfect sunset with a silhouette of snow covered Mt. Fuji. Awesome!  Many Japanese spend all their lives without witnessing such a sight and we got to see on day 2. Good to be lucky.

Tonight we traveled to Tokyo to play the Tokyo Yakult Swallows.  Although The Swallows play in Tokyo they do not draw nearly as many fans as the Giants.

Things didn’t go very well, we got hammered 10-1. Have to bounce back tomorrow and get back on a roll.

Tokyo games are commuter trips for us. We travel individually and do not stay in a hotel. We can take the train, taxi or drive but I don’t have a car. Bobby does and does sometimes drive, which reminds me of a good story.

Two years ago during our spring training portion of our schedule, when games are played at the main stadiums and not spring training sites, we had a game at nearby Tachikawa, where the Lions play. It’s about 1½ hours away by car or train and it was a beautiful day so Bobby decided to drive. He had never driven there before so he had one of our interpreters program his navigator for the journey. The navigator spoke in Japanese but that was not a problem as we were traveling with one of our other interpreters, and great friend, Koji Takaishi, who we will talk about much more in another entry.

So it’s Bobby, Koji, Paul and I heading off to Tachikawa, to the Seibu Dome, from Chiba for a spring training game. The journey is going well, and as always Bobby is telling some great stories of past adventures.  About half an hour into the drive we make a wrong turn (not paying attention), but the “navi” readjusts our course and we are right back on track (we think). Shortly after we run into traffic and now become concerned about our time of arrival. We have plenty of time because there is a full workout before the game and we can’t be too far, but Bobby decides to call in the lineup so everyone knows who is playing that day. We also let them know that we hit traffic but should be there soon.

The traffic finally clears and we start cruising again. Things got really confusing when we came to a rotary type intersection on the highway. We kept following the signs and listening to the “navi,” but kept ending up back in the same place. So now we decide it’s time to “wing it” since we have an idea of where we are.

Well……………it’s now 2 hours into the 1½  hour drive, we are cruising along the highway that we think will get us to our destination and all of a sudden we see a huge sign “Welcome to Chiba.” Can you believe that!? Two hours later we are back in Chiba with the start of the game only 1½ hours away.

Bobby pulls off the highway, finds the nearest train station and we pile onto a train heading to Tokyo.  After some good directions and guidance from a few Marines fans we arrive at the Seibu Dome. Bobby and I throw on our uniforms and bolt into the dugout as the opposing pitcher is toeing the mound for the first pitch of the game as Bobby flashes signs to the third base coach.

How’s that for timing? Just as planned, huh?

Categories: General

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