TOKYO -- As fans look forward to the launch of the Japanese professional baseball season in the latter half of June following an approximately three-month delay due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, a "stadium DJ" in Tokyo is hoping to add to the excitement of the new season.
Patrick Yu, 52, works as a stadium DJ for the Tokyo Yakult Swallows team, a position that puts him in charge of introducing athletes and making announcements over the PA system. Born to a father from the United States and a Korean mother, Yu began to play baseball during his elementary school years.
After a stint as a radio show DJ, Yu began working as a stadium DJ for games held in locations including Yakult's home ground, Tokyo's Jingu Stadium, in 2008. This year marks the first time for Yu to be distanced from the pro baseball world for so long.
"I wasn't sure what to do at first as something which had always been by my side vanished," he said. However, he now views the situation positively as "a good opportunity to pause and look back on past career experiences."
Amid the move to refrain from going out, the DJ reflected on the team's history as well as his own stadium announcements while organizing video footage of games and material from the past. He also engaged in muscle training and worked to improve his DJ skills by testing out a breathing method that differs from usual during voice training, among other tactics. From a desire to maintain the best condition possible in preparation for the season to begin at any time, Yu never forgets his routine of reading the newspaper aloud and devotes himself completely to self-care.
The voices raised by stadium DJs play a significant role which can sometimes even influence the outcome of matches at times. The DJ's job is to call the names of athletes, projecting echoing voices that use all of their strength and come from the pit of their stomachs. They lead the excitement of the crowd to a climax through a bold, energetic voice when the team is leading and a gentle one when the team is behind. DJs respond flexibly based on how the game unfolds and the atmosphere felt in the stadium. Yu commented, "Baseball is a living thing. There are no matches or game scenarios that are ever the same. I always consider how to bring about a sense of unity in the stadium by sharing the feeling of being deeply moved, of joy, and astonishment toward what happens in front of us in the heat of the moment."
This season's Tokyo Yakult Swallows welcomed a new manager, Shingo Takatsu; pitcher Yasunobu Okugawa, a graduate of Seiryo High School in Ishikawa Prefecture; and catcher Motohiro Shima, who previously played for the Tohoku Rakuten Eagles.
"I'm very excited about calling out the names of new athletes," Yu said. The DJ has prepared for the season's opening by rehearsing several patterns of athletes' names while imagining what kind of theme song will play in the background when they appear.
"At times, there are moments where the whole stadium -- the atmosphere surrounding the athletes, the cheers from fans, and production -- suddenly snap together into one. Having these moments to look forward to enables me to continue my announcement duties," said Yu. "When pro baseball resumes, I want to announce games in a way so that participants can relish the same Jingu Stadium experience in this same space as we have done in the past, rather than making it a special occasion. It'll be great if we can all appreciate the importance of being able to carry on what was once commonplace and taken for granted."
Yu remarked, "I wish to share the happiness of pro baseball being a part of our daily lives with everyone soon."
(Japanese original by Naoya Tsunoda, Sports News Department)