SYDNEY, 7 November - Some of Japan's largest companies are getting set to compete in Australia with corporate pride on the line - however, the battleground won't be in the boardroom, but a baseball diamond.
The Japanese Amateur Baseball Association (JABA), the overarching administrators of baseball in Japan, are sending an elite All-Star team from the Industrial Leagues to take on the Brisbane Bandits, proudly presented by WellDog, on Dec 2-3 and the Sydney Blue Sox on Dec 5th & 7th in the newly created "JABA Series".
In Japan, baseball is not only the country's most popular sport; it's their national corporate pastime. For decades, companies have used their Industrial League or Shakaijin baseball team as a vehicle for marketing and boosting the morale of employees and neighbouring residents, essentially hiring employees whose only job is to play baseball.
The Industrial Leagues are comparable to some of the strongest leagues in the world, including high-level minor leagues in the US, with many Shakaijin players having already competed in Japan's premier sports league, Nippon Professional Baseball.
ABL General Manager Ben Foster is buoyed by the opportunity to once again showcase players from teams like Panasonic, NTT, Mitsubishi and Osaka Gas to Australian fans.
"We are excited to be able to further strengthen our long-standing relationship with the Japanese baseball community and be a part of a unique long-standing tradition of Industrial League teams touring Australia," he said.
"It's like if Qantas played Westpac, each recruited some of the country's best cricketers and played in front of a nationally televised audience."
The JABA series will mark the first time a Japanese corporate team has played in Australia for nearly 20 years and the first time they will face an Australian Baseball League side.
Tickets to the JABA Series in Brisbane on 2-3 December are available on (07) 3162 8316 or by clicking here.
Tickets to the JABA Series in Sydney on December 5 & 7 are available on (02) 9675 6872 or by clicking here.