“We will win the United States with baseball” Japan’s 90-year-old dream come true
One of the three admonitions left by Shoriki Matsudaro (1885-1969), who was the owner of the Yomiuri Shimbun in Japan, was ‘catch up and overtake the United States’. Since the Meiji period, Japan’s motto has been ‘catching up with the West’.
For the development of baseball in Japan,메이저사이트 Matsudaro promoted the visit of MLB All-Stars to Japan. The first competition was held in 1931, and Babe Ruth also participated in the second visit to Japan in 1934. After losing 0-17 in the first tournament and 1-17 in the second tournament, Japan desperately wanted to beat the US. The Japan Baseball Club (club) that played against the MLB All-Stars became Tokyo Gyojin-gun (now the Yomiuri Giants) two years later. With this, Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) was born.
After the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, Japan was defeated. It was founded in 1945 by the Hiroshima Toyo Carp, a civic club for citizens who suffered enormous damage from the atomic bomb attack.
Since then, Japan has slowly and quietly developed its social and economic strength. In the 1960s, the ‘ON batting line’ led by Oh Sadaharu, the ‘Asia’s home run king’, and ‘Mr. Baseball’ Shigeo Nagashima, was the pride of Yomiuri, no, Japan. Baseball, the most American sport, has become the national sport of Japan.
Japan melted its unique craftsmanship into baseball. It was precise and detailed enough to be tenacious. Japanese baseball, which thoroughly analyzes opponents and digs into their weaknesses, has always been ahead of Korea. With Hideo Nomo in the late 1990s and Ichiro Suzuki in the early 2000s entering the MLB, Japan gained greater confidence.
Since then, Japan’s top-class players have gained trust that they can work in the United States as well. Eventually, when Japan won the first World Baseball Classic (WBC) in 2006 and the WBC in 2009, they declared that they were the best in the world. Up until this point, echoes had spread throughout Japan. In the 2013 and 2017 WBC, Japan only went to the quarterfinals.
At the 5th WBC, Japan was different from then. Unlike the past, where technical players such as Ichiro and Daisuke Matsuzake were the main players, in 2023, ‘Samurai Japan’ showed off its overwhelming power. Unlike in 2006 and 2009, we did not have a close match with Korea and reached the quarterfinals with a 4-game win.
During this process, the power of Otani Shohei and Sasaki Loki was phenomenal. Ohtani, who has already broken Ruth’s 100-year-old pitch and other records in the MLB, won 9 wins as a pitcher and 46 home runs as a hitter in 2021, and rose to the American League (MVP). Although his home runs were down to 34 last year, he went 15 with a 2.33 earned run average as a pitcher. Ohtani, who became a top star in the MLB, is also participating in the WBC in the best condition.
22-year-old Roki Sasaki has already grown into a pitcher who throws the world’s fastest fastball (164 km/h). Looking at the pitching against the Czech Republic on the 11th, it seemed that he could work in the United States right away.
It’s not just the mighty giants. Yamamoto Yoshinobu showed off Japan’s unique, accurate and flamboyant pitching. Masataka Yoshida, the best outfielder in Japan, signed a contract with the Boston Red Sox last winter for 5 years and 90 million dollars (120 billion won) despite his small physique (1m73cm). The improvement in power based on sophistication has put the Japanese national team in the ranks of the real ‘World’s Best’ in 2023.
Yomiuri’s home stadium, Tokyo Dome, which bears the legacy of Matsudaro, is called ‘the heart of baseball in Japan’. In the 4 matches of the 1st round of the WBC held there, the Japanese national team showed strong power. It is also a stage of humiliation for Korea, which lost 4-13 to Japan on the 10th.
Kosuke Fukudome (TBS commentator), a Japanese Chunichi Dragons star and also active in MLB, met with a reporter on the 12th and said, “The strength and physique of Japanese players have improved recently. He created power through weight training and diet management on top of solid basics. Japan now seems to have become a competitor to the United States. (Japan) Juniors seem to be doing really well,” he said proudly.
There are about 3,600 high school baseball teams participating in the Japanese Koshien tournament. Whether they know Matsudaro’s dream of “catching up with the United States” a century ago, young Japanese players are still growing. Not satisfied with the evaluation that “Japanese baseball works in the United States,” it has reached the stage of “confronting the United States with force.”
Lee Jeong-hoo, who showed the best hitting in the Korean national team, said, “(In the match against Japan) I hit a ball I had never seen before. It was definitely a ball I hadn’t seen in the KBO League.” While Japanese baseball was chasing American baseball, Korean baseball fell behind that much. No, it’s not wrong even if I took a long step back.