Car designers chat about their work at Hanshin Koshien Stadium, sharing behind-the-scenes stories on the day the Tigers clinched the title.
The details you miss on TV
The eye-catching bullpen car used at baseball games for the Olympics in Tokyo generated a great deal of buzz online. As it happens, that was another of Nagatsu’s designs.
The Koshien vehicle made him the only person in Japan to have designed two bullpen cars. Let’s take a closer look at the ideas that went into this second ride.
The steering wheel features yellow stitching to match the dashboard panel.
Sayoko Yuyama is part of the Koshien team at Hanshin Electric Railway. She was astonished to see the many ideas proposed by Toyota.
Yuyama, Hanshin Electric Railway
Not only did Toyota accommodate all our player-focused requests, but they also always took the initiative to suggest something extra despite the lack of time. I witnessed their tremendous dedication, and it was amazing to see professional carmakers at work.
The Toyota side felt a similar dedication.
In each of our many meetings, the conversation always started with the result of the previous day’s game. So and so was in a slump or needed to work harder. Every time we talked, they brimmed with passion.
The more we were exposed to these words, both Nagatsu and I came to love the Tigers. We may have been limited by budget and time, but passion always won the day.
Ido and Nagatsu have been teaming up since 2017 to create the concept cars exhibited at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in the United States. Given the trust built through this longstanding relationship, Ido didn’t feel the need to make many specific requests.
Sometimes, I was almost pushy, saying, “Look, this is what I did here.” When you’re working with limited resources, that sort of approach is better. As things started to take shape nicely, even those who were initially unsure gradually came around.
While out at the Hanshin Koshien Stadium, we also took the chance to speak with the bullpen car’s driver.
Ayaka, Tigers Girls Captain
I see the bullpen car’s entrance as part of the entertainment, so even while driving back after dropping off the pitcher, I am very conscious of what I’m doing.
The cool way to go is just to back it straight in, right? But sometimes the spectators mess with me and yell—“More to the right! Right!!” (laughs).
Of all my times driving, I am most excited about today (as the team looked set to claim the league title in that day’s game).
We also received a comment from Suguru Iwazaki, who was crowned as the pitcher with the most saves* in the 2023 season.*A statistic credited to a relief pitcher who maintains a team’s lead to the end of the game.
Suguru Iwazaki, Hanshin Tigers pitcher
I don’t think about pitching until I’m up on the mound, so during the ride, I get a fairly good feel for the crowd’s reaction. The high seat provides a different view, and I think it’s great that the fans can see me better.
And according to Iwazaki, nothing compares to a victory lap in the bullpen car after leading the team to a win.
At that point, the game had already been won, so it felt incredible. Every time I ride out in that bullpen car, I’m going to do my best to stop any runs going up on the scoreboard.
The new bullpen car helps fans to create the ultimate game-day atmosphere. Ido reflects that it provided a great opportunity to bring the C⁺pod to a broader audience.
“They use one at Koshien“ is a wonderful conversation starter. The C⁺pod is compact and easy to modify, opening up many possibilities.
The rapturous excitement of the Hanshin Koshien Stadium gives rise to countless stories. Next time you’re watching a game, whether in the stands or on TV, make sure to keep an eye out for the bullpen car.
The potential of mobility continues to grow through the power of design.