Baseball still making headlines in Japan with NPB games in fan-less stadiums

Baseball still making headlines in Japan with NPB games in fan-less stadiums
Former MLB third baseman Brandon Laird hit a gigantic home run for the Chiba Lotte Marines against the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks at the PayPay Dome. Enough for talking baseball again.

The modified start of the regular season hasn't been set yet, but Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) teams are still playing their pre-season games. The only anomaly is that they are playing warm-up games in front of empty stadiums; where last year, NPB was breaking its single-season attendance record with numbers over 25 million.

While baseball and sport worldwide has all but been shut down, a gigantic home run by former Major League Baseball (MLB) player Brandon Laird of NPB's Chiba Lotte Marines recently made the headlines. Laird hit the long ball off another American: Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks rookie right-hander Carter Stewart.

Laird, born in 1987, played for the MLB New York Yankees and Houston Astros before moving to Japan and becoming a star with the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters. He earned MVP honours of the Japan Series 2016. He moved to the Chiba for the 2019 season.

Stewart, born 1999, was drafted out of Mississippi State University by the MLB Atlanta Braves as number eight overall in 2018. He didn't agree to terms with Atlanta and spent the 2018-2019 Academic season at the Eastern Florida State College.

At the end of May 2019, Stewart agreed to terms with the Hawks on a six-year contract and a guaranteed US$ 7 million.

The game against Chiba was his first callup from the Minor Leagues.