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Australia and Japan: stronger than ever
Canberra partnership punctuates long line of success
07/20/2018 12:06 AM ET
(C) SMP IMAGES/BASEBALL AUSTRALIA
(C) SMP IMAGES/BASEBALL AUSTRALIA 

Australia and Japan have a long history of memorable battles on the baseball diamond.

From Team Australia's two victories against Japan at the 2004 Athens Olympics which played a pivotal role in an historic silver medal, to a record 41,408 fans attending game one of the 2017 World Baseball Classic as Japan prevailed at the Tokyo Dome.

There has been a long history of Australians playing in Japan, including Jeff Williams, who had a career 2.20 ERA for the Hanshin Tigers. Williams also picked up the save in Australia's unforgettable 1-0 victory over Japan in the 2004 Olympic semi-final.

Fast-forward to 2018, and relationships off-the-field between Australia and Japan are thriving.

The Canberra Cavalry and Yokohama DeNA BayStars this week announced a strategic partnership that will benefit both clubs on and off-the-field, while in January, Baseball Australia signed a memorandum of understanding with Fuchu City, as the Japanese city became the home-away-from-home for national team tournaments in Asia.

Australian Baseball League teams are no strangers to having Japanese players, with the Melbourne Aces consistently receiving high-quality prospects from the Seibu Lions, and the Sydney Blue Sox partnering with the Japanese Amateur Baseball Association.

Another Australian to star in Japanese baseball in Micheal Nakamura, who played for the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, Yomiuri Giants and Seibu Lions from 2005-2012.

Nakamura - a former Pacific League single-season saves record holder - told Chris Coleman on StrikeZone Australia that the BayStars-Cavalry partnership has significant benefits for Australian and Japanese baseball.

"It is a massive accomplishment to have an NPB team (BayStars) affiliate with an ABL team," Nakamura said.

"Yokohama is a strong organisation, and I believe this partnership will change the dynamic of the club and enhance the professionalism of the league as a whole.

 "Baseball in Japan is astronomical, it dwarfs the biggest sporting leagues we have in Australia easily."

The Cavalry are hoping to encapsulate a some of that interest, as they look to further enhance relationships between Australia and Japan. 

This story was not subject to the approval of the Australian Baseball League or its clubs.