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Pro baseball spring camp turns Ginoza into boomtown

Date Posted: 2003-02-15

Spring is in the air, and one of the nation’s top pro baseball teams is holding its first Spring training camp in Ginoza. The Hanshin Tigers are on the field, and that has brought an unprecedented crowd of fans and other curious visitors into the tiny village on the northeast side of the island.

Camp officially opened Feb. 1, and local officials estimate that some 15,000 people have visited the village every day, hoping to get a glimpse of the sports heroes. Crowds include more than 200 reporters and cameramen assigned to cover the training. Ginoza has no hotels, forcing the media and visiting public to trek to the training camp every day from other locations across the island.

Until low, Ginoza has best been known for its potatoes, and the local farmers’ cooperative is keeping busy selling boiled and fried potatoes from stalls set up along roadside leading to the training grounds. The local chamber of commerce is hawking T-shirts, and local businesses report an average 20 percent increase in their sales since spring training got under way.

No one is happier than Ginoza Mayor Yasukatsu Urasaki. “Our little village has recently become quite famous indeed,” the mayor beams. “First our high school baseball team made it all the way to the best four in the national championships last year, and now we managed to attract the HanshinTigers baseball team to hold their spring training here. I hope many people will visit our village from now on.”

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