Huddle Up with Matt Murton
A virtual talk show series with Christian baseball players from overseas
After much delay due to COVID-19, the 2020 season of Nippon Professional Baseball finally began on June 19, without spectators. Not long before that, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Japan (FCA Japan) uploaded a video to YouTube hosted by Matt Murton, a former baseball player for the Hanshin Tigers. Through the video we get an insight into how some of the Christian players have been coping during this pandemic.
Huddle Up with Matt Murton is a series of chats between Murton and other Christian baseball players living in Japan. The first and second videos were with Spencer Patton (pitcher for the Yokohama DeNA BayStars) and Steven Moya Mercedes (outfielder for the ORIX Buffaloes), and the third, fourth, and fifth were with Jonathan “Jon” Edwards (pitcher for the Hanshin Tigers) and Jerry Sands (also with the Hanshin Tigers).
Murton, who stopped playing Japanese professional baseball in 2015, asked the players questions about their lifestyle and training routines during the COVID-19 pandemic, differences between Japanese and American baseball, their favorite Japanese food, and about their faith. Murton also shared his own experiences while playing for the Hanshin Tigers and even gave a lesson on how to speak Japanese with a Kansai dialect! It is interesting to get a peek into the players’ everyday lives.
The idea to create the video series came about when Will Thompson, the national director of FCA Japan, saw an FCA video on the internet called “Huddle Up!” Thompson explained, “The FCA is active in 90 countries across the world but most of its activity takes place in the US.” When many people were under lockdown back in March and April, the video was made to encourage US fans and trainers. Thompson wondered whether something similar could be made to suit the Japanese audience, and while Thompson prayed about it Murton came to mind.
“Murton not only achieved numerous records back in the day, but he has a big heart and speaks well. Although it has been five years since he left Japan, he returns once a year to join events and he also connects with his fans via social media. When I approached Murton about this idea, he said that he would be ‘happy to cooperate to show appreciation to fans.’”
“In the video, we see Murton chatting with the guests about topics ranging from their faith to everyday matters. A Christian watching may think, ‘Wow, they’re Christian athletes. I want to support them,’” said Thompson.
Edwards and Sands are new in the field, so they are still relatively unknown. But a few days after the video was uploaded to YouTube, Sands, who had just been promoted out of the Tigers reserve team, hit a come-from-behind three-run homer against the Yokohama BayStars.
“The videos could be used as a tool to evangelize to sports fans,” said Thompson.
Five videos in the series “Huddle Up with Matt Murton” have been uploaded on the FCA Japan website. They’re in English with Japanese subtitles.
YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCG82Lx85Lb-CKT2fwPKXqYQ
FCA website: https://www.fcajapan.org/
From the Christian Shimbun, July 19, 2020 issue
Translated by Grace Koshino