Chiba Lotte Marines Fireballer pitcher Roki Sasaki, 22, has revealed a connection to his idol.
Sasaki met Rakuten Golden Eagles pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, 35, at the Nippon Professional Baseball All-Star Game on Sept. 19-20, and the two 13-year-olds wore identical Pacific League All-Star jerseys and spoke highly of each other during a joint interview hosted by TV Asahi.
Tanaka, a 195-win Japanese-American pitcher who began playing for Rakuten in 2007 and won 78 games for the New York Yankees from 2014-2020 before returning to Rakuten in 2021, said of Sasaki, who holds the record for the fastest fastball in Nippon Professional Baseball (165 kilometers per hour), “It’s really scary. He’s still young, and I think it’s just the beginning, so I’m very excited.”메이저사이트
“Tanaka-senpai was a player I looked up to when I was a kid and started watching baseball,” Sasaki said. I still have a Rakuten jersey with his number 18 on it hanging at home,” Sasaki said, revealing his fandom. Tanaka was surprised and said, “Really. Thank you.”
Sasaki then talked about the third game of the Nippon Professional Baseball All-Star Game, which was held on July 23, 2012, in Iwate Prefecture, Japan. Sasaki, a native of Iwate, has painful memories of losing his father in the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 2011. More than 2,400 children affected by the earthquake were invited to the All-Star Game, and Sasaki was one of them. Tanaka was the starting pitcher for the Pacific League that day.
“I was watching from the outfield stands, and the way he threw and the way he pitched, and the fighting spirit he had, was really cool,” said Sasaki. I also participated in a baseball class event in Sendai City in January 2013.” In addition to Tanaka, other Japanese stars such as Hayato Sakamoto (Yomiuri Giants) and Genta Maeda (Minnesota Twins) participated in the class.
“I’m really surprised,” Tanaka said, “I just learned about it for the first time.” Sasaki mentioned Tanaka’s name as a role model when he joined Chiba Lotte. When Sasaki said, “I dreamed of becoming a professional baseball player after seeing Tanaka’s 24-game winning streak that led to the 2013 Rakuten championship,” Tanaka replied, “Actually, I lost once in the Japan Series. I’m sorry (laughs),” he said, and thanked him profusely.
Sasaki said, “I haven’t pitched a full inning yet. I’d like to hear the secret of how you can throw for so long,” Sasaki replied, “You just have to keep throwing and feel different things and grow. Lately, I feel like my velocity has decreased and I’m more stable. It’s great that you keep improving,” he encouraged Sasaki.
The two players ended the interview with a handshake, wishing each other a healthy season. The relationship between the new and old Nippon Professional Baseball aces has been going on for a long time and is likely to continue for a long time to come.