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Thursday, Nov. 1, 2007

Fighters help to put smile on fan's face

Staff writer

SAPPORO — Takako Miura says she beats her two plastic sticks together so hard when rooting for her beloved Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters that she almost breaks them.

News photo
Takako Miura roots for the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters during Game 3 on Tuesday. KAZ NAGATSUKA PHOTO

"I'm not worried," Miura said with a smile Tuesday at a public viewing site in a Sapporo shopping mall during Game 3 of the ongoing Japan Series against the Chunichi Dragons. " . . . I've stocked up with so many of them."

Trey Hillman and his squad hugely appreciate the Fighters fans, but Miura is just as grateful to the team, which moved to Hokkaido in 2004.

Miura lost her son, Hidetoshi, in 1999 after breathing difficulties brought on by influenza, and her husband, Hisashi, died in 2003 with cirrhosis of the liver.

"We were a three-person family," said Miura, a 63-year-old part-time worker. "I became lonely."

The Fighters brought some much-needed joy back into the life of Miura, sunken by the tragic loss of her son and husband. One day, she was asked to go to Sapporo Dome for a Fighters game, and from that day on she began to attend more and more games as her affection for the team grew.

This year, Miura has gone to almost all the Fighters' home games.

"Going to the stadium may be more important to me than actually watching the game," said Miura, adding she had never cared about baseball before.

She now talks with many other Fighters fans, including a young man living in Tokyo whom she met on Opening Day back in March.

"We've been exchanging e-mail," Miura said. "He sometimes comes up to Sapporo to root for the team and teaches me the rules (of baseball)."

Miura said fans around her at the Dome have told her she has become happier as the season has progressed.

Not that her late husband and late son are far from her thoughts.

On the back of her Fighters uniform is written "T. Hisashi" (with "Hisashi" in kanji).

The "T" is the initial of Miura's first name and "Hisashi" is her husband's name. She also puts the first letter of her son's name on her right sleeve.

"It's only me who's wearing stuff like this, isn't it?" said Miura.

On Tuesday, Miura watched her Fighters lose 9-1 to the Dragons in Game 3, making the series 2-1 in favor for the Nagoya club, but Miura wasn't disheartened.

"It doesn't matter," she said. "They still give me a lot of energy."

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