Japanese fans at the World Baseball Classic in Tokyo Dome captured hearts online after they passed around Shohei Ohtani’s home run ball before returning it to the woman who caught it, showing an exceptional collective display of sportsmanship.
Akatsu said catching Ohtani‘s home run ball was a dream come true. “It’s a true honor to be able to catch it, and it feels like I’ve used all my life’s worth of luck,” she joked.
According to Akatsu, she wanted to share the excitement she felt after catching the ball with others by passing it around to the fans around her. In a video, groups of fan can be seen snapping a quick photo of the ball before passing it along to the next, before eventually handing it back to Akatsu.
“It was a great experience,” Akatsu was quoted as saying. “I’m really happy that I was able to share that experience with everyone else around.”
The game ended with Japan winning 7-1.
Many on social media commended Akatsu for sharing the ball and celebrated the moment as a testament to the sportsmanship that Japanese athletes and fans have exhibited in other international tournaments.
“She gained an invaluable return by choosing to share joy rather than keeping it in her own pocket, which cannot be bought with money,” a user commented.
“When I see things like this I think about how I wish my children were growing up in that sort of environment,” another wrote. “As Americans, we need to do better than we have been. “
“We Japanese have the virtue of sharing. Happiness is unlimited and can never be monopolized,” a user chimed in. “By sharing joy, new pleasure is born.”
Some also found Akatsu’s act of kindness unusual, considering the lengths that some fans would typically go to just get a hold of a home run ball, such as jumping over seats or even engaging in fights, which is often witnessed in Major League Baseball games.
“How many people would end up in the hospital and/or jail if this happened at Citizens Bank Park?” a commenter wrote.
“If that was the US the guy who caught the ball would’ve been jumped,” wrote a user.
“Never seen that happen at Yankee stadium,” noted another.
Samurai Japan capped off the tournament in a thrilling grand final night against Team USA in Miami.