It has been just around five months since the WBC has been played and a lot of the stories from it keep coming. One of the most underrated was the friendship that bloomed between Czechia and Japanese teams.
That friendship has now bloomed into Czechia’s national baseball team touring around Japan. The team will be attending matches in Japan’s most celebrated league, the Nippon Professional Baseball League. There are two goals for this trip. The first is to grow the friendship between the two nations in baseball even more. It will be a little more than giving candy gifts to each other in the WBC. The second will be for the Czechia team to learn and grow from the various professional managers and players that swarm the nation.
It will be a one-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the Czechian team, as all members of the WBC roster had jobs outside of their baseball career. That regular-joe story the team carried around them this past tournament grabbed the hearts of many in Japan and around the world. When Shohei Ohtani publicly apologized to a player on the team for hitting them with a pitch and wore the hats of the national team, the love somehow grew even more. The Czech players may not be noticed at all in their own country, but they are celebrities in Japan.
The first stop from the Czechian team would be right next to the capital city of Tokyo Chiba City. There, the first pitch would be thrown by the manager, Pavel Chadim. It would also be the first time that the first pitch would be thrown by someone of Czechian nationality in the Nippon Professional Baseball League. There the team would be sitting in the crowd and sign autographs of the unlikely fans of the team.
There is also hope that the team will learn a lot from the teams and hopefully bring it back to a nation that is growing the game very quickly. Czechia is one of the biggest baseball nations in Europe after their unlikely qualification to the WBC. Since their qualification, the nation had shown other achievements as well. Czechia will be the European and African representative at the Little League World Series. They had done this with a team from Brno which also is the hometown for many on the national team.
But there still isn’t a professional league in Europe for Czechia to send their players to. They are stuck far away from two giants on opposite sides of the world and only have an event once every four years to showcase their talent. They do have semi-professional leagues in the Netherlands and Italy. It also looks like there is more growth in leagues around Europe as well, but it’s still a tough spot geographically compared to Eastern Asia or the Americas.
Despite nothing being signed on paper, there was an obvious friendliness in the air that would continue the growth of the sport in Czechia thanks to Japan’s help. It is a nation that is getting ready to grow the sport and with an automatic qualifier to the 2026 World Baseball Classic, it will be another reason to try to grow the sport. But even though sports can create some of the greatest rivalries in the world, it can also create some of the most unlikely friends along the way.Embed from Getty Images