This high school pitcher struck out his childhood friend to advance to the state championships.
Instead of celebrating with his teammates, he did this:
— ESPN (@espn) June 11, 2018
The enormous success of Check Please, Ngozi Ukazu’s boy’s love hockey dramedy, is but the tip of a very large iceberg of sports themed manga and manga-like comics, some with yaoi undertones. The emotion and melodrama of sports competition combined with inner turmoil – or just inner confusion – is a surefire recipe for comics suspense. Throw in hockey players penchant for long, meaningful hugs, and you see why it’s a Tumblr favorite.
But now, a real life incident on a high school baseball team had shown that all of the emotional breakdowns we see on the page can be found in real life.
The story is Ty and Jack, childhood friends who played little league together but found themselves on opposite sides in a game that would decide who went to state…
Ty Koehn is the pitcher (Mounds View HS) and they were playing against Totino Grace, a private school that draws heavily from our district.
The batter, Jack Kokan (sp) is a longtime friend that Ty played little league with.
This was a sectional final and the win sent MV to state.
— Jim Moberg (@b757fo_jim) June 11, 2018
And when Ty struck out Jack to win the game and send his team on to the next round, instead of celebrating with his teammates, he ran to hug and comfort his friend. Because striking out in the 9th inning is no fun and Ty needed to be there for his buddy.
The lads are going to be on Sports Center today, doubtless to show more about the true nature of friendship, and the kind of situation that’s at the heart of every sports manga – the friend turned rival.
In fact, JA Micheline nailed the exact manga analog:
Adachi, M. (1992), H2. Tokyo, Japan: Shogakukan. https://t.co/5kVXpzYAvR
— J. A. Micheline⚡️ (@elevenafter) June 11, 2018
Mitsuru Adachi’s H2 has never been translated, but Wikipedia and Madinkbeard tell us it is STARTLINGLY like the real story of Ty and Jack, with Hideo and Hiro baseball rivals, although there’s also a girl involved, Hikaru. This formula proved so sturdy that Adachi made an entire career out of making baseball manga about two guys and a girl, including Touch, Slow Step, Miyuki and Cross Game – the latter was published by Viz back in 2010.
In fact, Adachi’s stories are so similar that even he can’t tell his characters apart.
These are actually the three DIFFERENT main characters from three DIFFERENT manga. Perhaps we see why he isn’t that popular in the US.
Anyway, Ty and Jack have already warmed the hearts of people with their show of compassion over competition, and I’m sure someone is busy writing fanfic about it right now. We look forward to the webcomic.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.