Former colleagues attended the opening ceremony of Lee Dae-ho (41), the “4th hitter of Joseon,” to shine.
On the 28th (Korean time), Lee Dae-ho pitched in the home game against Chiba Lotte of the 2023 Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) held at the Paypay Dome in Fukuoka, Japan. He was invited by his former team, Softbank, and pitched the first pitch to pray for victory.안전놀이터
Initially, Lee Dae-ho was scheduled to pitch a ceremonial pitch rather than a regular pitch. The ceremonial first pitch is normally caught by the ball boy, not the catcher.
However, his former colleagues stepped out to welcome Lee Dae-ho, who visited Softbank after 8 years. Japan’s leading hitter Yuki Yanagita (35) took the bat, and outfielder Akira Nakamura (34) wore a catcher’s mask and served as the catcher.
Lee Dae-ho played an active part in Softbank for two years from 2014 to 2015, leading the team to a combined championship for two consecutive years. In particular, in 2015, he was selected as the first Korean MVP (Most Valuable Player). He played in 285 games over two seasons with Softbank, batting 2.9 2s (314 hits in 1076 at-bats), 50 home runs, 166 RBIs, and 128 runs scored.
Yanagita and Nakamura were among the youngest players at the time when they ate together with Lee Dae-ho at Softbank. However, those who have become seniors have grown into top-class players representing Japanese baseball. Lee Dae-ho, who was reunited with the two players, said, “When we played together, we were all the youngest members of the team,” and laughed, “When I saw them grow into superstars, I thought, ‘A lot of time has passed’.”
Nakamura is an outfielder, but volunteered to be catcher for Lee Dae-ho. He smiled, saying, “I have never been a catcher, but I think it would be fortunate just to catch the ball.”
When Lee Dae-ho saw Nakamura, he raised his thumb, saying, “He is the hardest player at Softbank. Even when he gets older, he has no choice but to do well.” Nakamura played in 42 games this season and has a batting average of .286 (46 hits in 161 bats), 2 homers, 14 runs and 12 RBIs.
Nakamura, who met Lee Dae-ho after 8 years, said, “I was so happy. It seems to be the same as before.” He continued, “I felt very strong when we played together,” and recalled the days together, saying, “I felt fortunate to be a teammate.”
Lee Dae-ho (left) and Yanagita Yuki (right). no cut news
Yanagita ran to Lee Dae-ho’s visit and bowed his head at 90 degrees to greet him. He, who has always shown respect for Lee Dae-ho, expressed his gratitude, saying, “He was a player who helped me a lot in my growth phase when I was young.”
The previous day (27th) Lee Dae-ho watched the game from the stands and enthusiastically cheered on his old teammates. Thanks to Lee Dae-ho’s support, Softbank won Chiba Lotte 6-5. In particular, Yanagita, who made a big success with 3 hits in 6 at-bats, 1 RBI, and 2 runs including a walk-off hit at the end of the 12th inning, said, “I received Lee Dae-ho’s energy well,” and said “Thank you” in Korean, drawing laughter.
Last year, Lee Dae-ho finished his career by going on a retirement tour for the second time in KBO league history. At that time, Yanagita sent a video letter to congratulate Lee Dae-ho on his retirement. “I was very happy when I was asked,” he recalled, “but I felt a little empty after a great player retired.”
Yanagita is a player whom Lee Jung-hoo (Kiwoom), the KBO league’s ‘hitting genius’, picked as a role model. In response, Yanagita praised Lee Dae-ho, saying, “I know about Lee Jung-hoo, but you should learn Lee Dae-ho, not me.”
This season, Yanagita played 42 games and has a batting average of 3.25 (49 hits in 151 at-bats), 8 homers, 23 RBIs and 21 runs. Ranked 1st in batting average, 2nd in home runs, 3rd in RBIs, and 4th in runs scored, he raised his voice, saying, “My goal this season is a batting average of 30% and more than 30 home runs.”