The true face of the first freshman to achieve this feat in 39 years since Kiyohara | FRIDAY DIGITAL

The true face of the first freshman to achieve this feat in 39 years since Kiyohara

Next Generation Star No. 25 "I always eat 1,200 grams of white rice for dinner," says Kazuma Okamoto of the Giants, who can hit a homerun in the opposite direction.

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At the baseball ground of the baseball club attached to Futamatsu Gakusha University in Kashiwa City, Chiba Prefecture. Tucking into a lunch box of his favorite dish, ginger yaki (ginger yaki).


the leadoff hitter of the Futamatsugakusha University (Tokyo) baseball team, raised his right hand high in the air and barked after hitting a homer to the opposite field.

Kaito Katai, 16, a freshman who plays the No. 4 spot on the team, easily hit the ball into the outfield. He is not put down by the fact that he is the youngest player on the team.

I’m determined to give it my all now that I’ve been entrusted with the No. 4 spot,” he said. Home runs are important, but I want to be a hitter who can get a hit when he has the chance.

Katai started playing baseball in the first grade of elementary school. In order to hit the ball harder, he increased the amount of food he consumed from the fourth year of elementary school.

I made it a rule to eat 600 grams of white rice at every meal. I still have a quota. I eat 600g in the morning, 800g at lunch, and always 1200g of white rice at dinner. My favorite dish is gingerbread. If I go to a curry restaurant, I can eat a large serving of 1 kg.”

Currently, he is 175 cm tall and weighs 97 kg. He is still in the process of growing up, but thanks in part to his hearty appetite, he is the strongest hitter on the team. The former captain of the team saw this and gave up his No. 4 position to him.

He was Yukio Kobayashi, who was the captain of the team. He must have had pride as the No. 4 player, but I can only thank him. Even after he retired to the bench, Mr. Kobayashi often gave me advice such as, ‘Aim for the straight line.

First time in 39 years since Kiyohara

In the Tokyo Tournament this fall, Katai lost to Tokai University Sugo in the final, but he still has a chance to play in next spring’s Senbatsu Tournament, as he did this summer.

Katai has sat in the No. 4 position since the fifth round of the East Tokyo Tournament this summer. His true potential was on display in the second round of the Koshien Tournament on August 14 against Yashiro High School in Hyogo Prefecture, when, with one out in the third inning, he swung at a straight ball and sent it into the left-center field stands in front of 39,000 spectators. It was the second time in 39 years, since Kazuhiro Kiyohara (PL Gakuen, Osaka) in the summer of 1983, that a right-handed hitting freshman No. 4 had hit a home run.

I had the best feeling I’ve ever had. I had blown a chance in my previous at-bat, so I felt like I was going to make up for it. It felt super good.

One of Katai’s characteristics is his strong heart, and he snored heavily and slept soundly in the same room with his seniors during the June trip to the Kansai region. When he makes an error during a practice knock, he says, “I’m sorry,” and smiles.

I’ve never been very nervous. Maybe the first time I bat at the Koshien Stadium. I always enjoy it. If I make an error, there’s no point in getting depressed. If I make a mistake, I feel like I want to get back at them. The stronger the opponent, the more I burn.

There is one player whom Katai admires. He is Kazuma Okamoto, the No. 4 pitcher for the Giants.

It is amazing that he can hit a home run in the opposite direction. Okamoto-san’s hitting is my ideal. Recently, I have been actively working on weight training so that I can be as good as Okamoto-san. I work on my upper body after the entire practice session is over.”

Coach Ichihara is also impressed with the performance of the first-year starter.

He said, “He can hit to right field from center, similar to Seiya Suzuki, who is an alumnus of the Cubs. Even Seiya couldn’t play this well in his first year. It is reliable that he can handle any kind of ball. His unobtrusive personality is also suited to actual competition.”

Katai has a clear goal in mind.

Katai has a clear goal in mind: “Winning the championship at Koshien. (I have no experience yet (with Futamatsugakusha University). I want to play in next spring’s Senbatsu tournament and win the national championship.

With his sights set on a professional career, Katai will once again be aiming to hit a home run in the sacred ground.

Katai Kaito / Born in August 2006 in Asaka City, Saitama Prefecture, Katai is the eldest of four siblings, all of whom play baseball. He chose Futamatsu Gakusha University because “they were the first to call on me. Throws right-handed and hits right-handed, and has been on the bench since the Kanto tournament in the spring of his freshman year.

From the November 25, 2022 issue of FRIDAY

  • Photographed by Hiroyuki Komatsu

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