Other than winning the championship in 1985, this is probably the most talked about moment in Hanshin Tigers history. At this point, the team had a 50 year history and still no championship to speak of. However, it boasted one of its finest hitting lineups ever.
Having started the season on the road, the Tigers were in game two of their first homestand. The opponents: their arch nemesis Yomiuri Giants. Game one featured an interesting come-from-behind victory by the Tigers, but its drama paled in comparison to this one. Down by two runs in the seventh, the team managed to get a two runners aboard for first baseman Randy Bass.
Bass, who had a decent first two years with the team, but who started the season quite cold, was 0-for-2 in this one to this point. Journalists report that before the game, he didn’t even take batting practice. Instead, he watched video footage of his batting stance. And apparently, something clicked, because…
This would be Bass’ first homerun of the season, one in which he hit 54 and went on to win the Triple Crown. Masayuki Kakefu was already hitting well and obviously took advantage of a shaken pitcher who had just surrendered a late lead. Akinobu Okada‘s blast sent the crowd into hysterics. As the announcers said, “Koshien wa matsuri desu!” Koshien is in festival mode!
As we all know, the team won its first and only championship that October. This day can be said to be the one that sparked the Tigers’ magical ride to glory.