In his third year as a professional baseball player, has he finally “awakened in earnest”? Hanshin’s Teruaki Sato, “God’s response to fans” as seen by this magazine. | FRIDAY DIGITAL

In his third year as a professional baseball player, has he finally “awakened in earnest”? Hanshin’s Teruaki Sato, “God’s response to fans” as seen by this magazine.

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Only Sato kept writing his signature silently and alone.

On August 19, Teruaki Sato (24) of the Hanshin baseball team hit his eighth home run of the season in a game against Hiroshima at Koshien Stadium. The hit, which had a dwell time of 7 seconds, was a huge parabolic shot, and the reply column on the official Twitter page was filled with comments from fans, such as, “That’s amazing,” and “As expected of a superstar.

I was drafted in the first round in ’19 as a promising long-range gunner and the face of the future Hanshin team.’ I hit over 20 homers in both the ’20 and ’21 seasons, but I felt that I was a little short of the mark, as there were certain periods of ineffectiveness. This season, however, he was sluggish in April, but went on a rampage in May. He is in a position to become both the home run and batting average leader.

In April, his batting average was .200 and he hit three home runs, but as of May 22, his batting average had recovered a little to .250, and his home runs were on a blistering pace at five. He is currently second in the league in home runs and fifth in runs batted in.

On the evening of April 16, this magazine saw Sato on the platform of Shin-Yokohama Station after a game against DeNA. It was a day game in Yokohama. There were many Hanshin players on the platform to take the bullet train after the game.

However, the air was heavy among the Hanshin players, as they had lost the game 2-1 that day. The senior mainstays of the team did not respond to fans’ requests for autographs, but Sato was the only one who quietly signed autographs in response to the requests of more than a dozen fans.

Sato was struggling at the time because he was not doing well,

Sato’s “divine response” to fans is well known. Especially at the stadium, he always signs autographs for children who approach him, not only at Koshien but also when he is away from home. He not only signs autographs, but also engages in conversation, giving away bats, gloves, and anything else he can get his hands on. Because they see every single one of these things, fans cheer him on even when his performance is slowing down,” said an editor of a professional baseball magazine.

(An editor of a professional baseball magazine). Shohei Otani, whom Sato admires, is known to have set himself the task of picking up trash to bring him luck, and Sato may have unwittingly been accumulating virtues through fan service. The Hanshin League is currently in first place in the league (as of May 21), and a double championship may be no more than a dream for Sato, who is leading the team to its first league championship in 18 years.

Teruaki Sato’s “divine response” is famous even among fans.
At 187 cm and 94 kg, Sato (left) has a body like no other rookie, a trait inherited from his father, a judoist (April 9, 2009 issue).
  • PHOTO Takahiro Kagawa (3rd)

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