When Shiina Adachi first arrived for baseball tryouts, he caught his new teammates off-guard.
“We’re like, why is he bowing” said Auburn’s Brandon Hazel.
For the Japanese exchange student at Auburn High School, it was a gesture of gratitude for a game he’s played for the last nine years in his native country.
“It’s for respect for everything – the field, the judgement, umpire,” Adachi said.
“The kids saw it, and thought it was a great idea for them to do it themselves – just in honor of Shiina and his culture,” said Auburn head coach Justin Mentink.
So Shiina’s teammates all started bowing – every time they entered the field and every time they left – becoming a unique tradition, and showing their support for their teammate.
“We love having him out there – love his energy, just love the game – we didn’t know what to respect from him,” said teammate Dillon O’Grady.
But it’s also taught the Trojans perspective – especially after watching Shiina bowing to his opponents – and the umpire – even after a bad call.
“It’s a great way for them to keep perspective – understand that there’s more to the game than what goes on on the field – just have respect for the game,” Mentink said.
It’s a tradition they expect to continue in honor of Shiina when his year abroad comes to an end – and he heads back home.
Added Mentink: “Especially starting in a new ballpark – it’s something we could keep going for years to come.”