Coming home at midnight and going to the airport at 4:00 a.m…….The first major Japanese coach confesses to “a guy who was an alternate in high school” and his epic struggle in the U.S. | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Coming home at midnight and going to the airport at 4:00 a.m…….The first major Japanese coach confesses to “a guy who was an alternate in high school” and his epic struggle in the U.S.

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Uematsu, who was an alternate in high school and has no professional baseball experience

I have heard that Mr. Bob Melvin will be our manager for next season. I have never met him, but I hear he is a good manager, and I look forward to playing baseball with him.”

There is another notable Japanese in Major League Baseball this year, as Shohei Ohtani became the first Asian to win the home run crown and the second Asian to win the MVP award. Yasuyoshi Uematsu of the San Francisco Giants, the first full-time Japanese coach with three World Series championship rings ( 40 ). In this long interview, Uematsu discusses his rise from backstage bullpen catcher to coach in the limelight, and talks about the world of the Majors.

Although Mr. Uematsu is a Major League Baseball coach, he has no professional baseball experience in Japan or the United States. In fact, in high school, he was always warming the bench.

I was a catcher at Seibudai Chiba High School (Noda City, Chiba Prefecture), but I didn’t play in a single official game during my three years in high school. I wanted to play just once, so in the last tournament I appealed directly to the coach to let me play in the game.

He loved baseball so much that he wrote in his elementary school graduation book that his dream was to become a major leaguer, and he did not want to leave the game, but he was beginning to see his limits as a player.

My father even suggested that I continue playing semi-hardball at university,” he said. But in my mind, I was leaning toward giving up baseball and pursuing other avenues. If not baseball, I wanted to study English, which I love. So I decided to study English in the U.S. for a few years and then enter a Japanese university.

Three roles: pitcher, catcher, and trainer

Pitching before a game as a batting pitcher

Uematsu decided to study English in the United States. Although he had given up on his dream of becoming a baseball player, he wanted to work in a job related to baseball in the future once he had mastered English. If it was in the Major Leagues, which he longed to do, there was nothing to ask for. After coming to the U.S., he took advantage of the few opportunities he had and gradually began to make his dream come true.

When I was in language school in California, an acquaintance introduced me to a Japanese man who had experience as a trainer for the White Sox minor league team, and I heard that Southern Illinois University had a good department for athletic trainers.

This was around the time when I had watched Ichiro, Masahiro Sasaki, Shigetoshi Hasegawa, and others play in the Majors and wanted to work on the same stage as them. I thought that a trainer could make that happen.”

After attending the University of California, Santa Barbara, he went on to Southern Illinois University. While studying to become a trainer, he also created his own opportunities.

When I was assigned to the baseball team as a trainer intern, I requested to be allowed to play hitting pitcher. I had played baseball through high school, so I was confident I could throw a good ball. I was able to play the three roles of hitting pitcher, bullpen catcher, and trainer. The players liked me so much that they asked me to come back the next year. It is unusual to be assigned to the same sport two years in a row for an internship, but I was able to make connections with the team, which was a good result.

I found a job with a major baseball team where I could work as an intern before graduation, but none of the conditions were good. So I talked to the director of the baseball team and he introduced me to the Giants. I immediately spoke with the GM of the team, and he said, ‘The Fresno Grizzlies, a Triple-A affiliate of the Giants, (now affiliated with the Rockies) are looking for a bullpen catcher for the summer season, are you interested? I felt it was a good opportunity, so I took the test, passed, and was able to join the team for two months. I kept in touch with him after that, and the following year In 2007, I was officially signed as the bullpen catcher. I was officially signed as the bullpen catcher the following year in ’07.

The bullpen catcher’s role is to catch the pitcher’s balls between innings.

The minor leagues are divided into five classes by level, from Triple-A to Rookie League, with a total of about There are about 150 teams in all. There are about 150 teams in all. Even the highest level, Triple-A Even the Triple-A teams, which have the highest level of funding, are not as well funded as the Major Leagues. Uematsu stayed with an average family while working as a bullpen catcher, hitting pitcher, knocker, and trainer. He says he had some tough times.

We basically flew, but not on chartered planes like in the majors,” he said. We had to take the earliest flight on the day of the game, so I had to leave the game the day before and fly home at midnight. I would return home around 12:00 a.m. the next morning after finishing a game the day before. I had to be at the airport by 4:00 a.m. the next morning, even if I returned home around 12:00 a.m. I would have to be at the airport at 4:00 a.m. the next morning. Since we would arrive at the hotel we were traveling to early in the morning, we sometimes had to spend a long time in the lobby until we could get into our rooms.

Major leaguers are required to stay at the highest rank by agreement of the players’ association. Each player was assigned a room at a luxury hotel such as the Four Seasons or the Ritz-Carlton, and was charged a daily rate of 110 dollars per day (about 10,000 yen). 10,000 The cost of meals was $110 per day (about 10,000 yen) at the time. The room was provided with a daily allowance of $110 (about 16,000 yen) for meals at that time. However, the triple A players have a lower hotel rank and a shared room. The cost of meals is also 30 dollars (about 4400 (about 4,400 yen).

If you go to the clubhouse at the stadium, meals are available, but if you tip the serving staff, there is not much left over. Since the money available in the majors and minors is quite different, players who have been demoted to the minors want to return to the majors as soon as possible. The players in the minors always wanted to make it to the majors.

If you miss out now, you don’t have a chance.”

As a bullpen catcher, he had been on the receiving end of many first-rate pitchers’ balls.

That year ( The All-Star Game was held in San Francisco that year (2007). The 2007 All-Star Game was held in San Francisco. After having the opportunity to work as a bullpen catcher, catching balls for Hideki Okajima and other top pitchers, Uematsu began to think more and more that he wanted to work in the majors. The Giants had plans to add a bullpen catcher, and Keiichi Yabu, who had been released from the Athletics and other teams at the same time, came to the Giants to take an entrance test.

Keiichi Yabu, who had signed a free-agent contract with the Athletics and other teams at the same time, came to the Giants to take the test. I took the initiative to be Yabu’s trainer and interpreter, and asked him to let me be his interpreter if he ever decided to play baseball for the Giants.

Later, I also asked Bruce Bochy (now manager of the Rangers), “I can speak Japanese and support Mr. Yabu, pitch hitting, and train him. I made a direct appeal to him, saying, “I want to make it to the Majors as a bullpen catcher for sure. At the time, I was not allowed to talk to the manager beyond my immediate supervisor. However, I thought I had no chance if I missed the opportunity, so I went into the manager’s office. I’ll talk to my superiors.

However, even after Yabu’s transfer to the Giants was finalized, there was no word from the team. He was ready to continue working for the Grizzlies, when he received a phone call from the GM. I was ready to continue working for the Grizzlies, when I received a phone call from the GM.

I was asking the Grizzlies manager if I could have a single room at the hotel. The GM said, ‘Tyler, I’m sorry, but I can’t give you a single room.

I thought it was a bad idea because of the budget, but he went on to say, “But, if you want to play in the major leagues, you can have a single room. But if you are in the major leagues, we can get you a single room. For a moment, I didn’t understand what he meant, but he meant that I could go to the majors to support Mr. Yabu. I was very happy. But the GM But the GM also told me that I should be prepared for the fact that I might not be able to stay in the Major Leagues for more than a few days.

It was the moment Uematsu’s childhood dream of working in the major leagues was fulfilled. In Part 2, we will introduce the amazing reality of his dream job in the Majors and the true faces of the top players.

Part 2: “Exclusive: Three World Series Winning Rings” Photos

In the minors in 2007. He dreamed of playing in the majors despite suffering under the harsh environment (Uematsu is in the center).
Giants coaches and staff during the ’23 season (Uematsu is second from right).
He says that communication between coaches is also important to make the team stronger.
Exclusive! Uematsu is the only Japanese who owns three of these rings, which are only given to players and staff members of teams that win the World Series.
  • Interview and text by Masayoshi Katayama


  • PHOTO Courtesy of Mr. Uematsu

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