Orix’s Hiromasa Tongu reveals “Golden words of my seniors that saved me when I was troubled” after winning first place in the batting order | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Orix’s Hiromasa Tongu reveals “Golden words of my seniors that saved me when I was troubled” after winning first place in the batting order

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Do my best swing
Rapidly growing up and winning the top spot in the batting order! He was the driving force behind three consecutive league championships!
He will do it again next year, “Hoisai!

Born in Okayama Prefecture in November 1996. Went to Okayama University of Science High School and then to Asia University. Joined Orix as the second overall pick in the 1919 draft. This season, he led the team in batting as the top hitter for the first time and was selected as one of the best nine players of the season.

Do my best swing!

That’s what is written on the helmet of Orix’s main gun, Yuma Tongu (27). These words were inscribed after receiving advice from Masataka Yoshida, 30, who moved to the Red Sox this season and is now playing in the major leagues. Tonomiya said, “Masanao said to me, ‘I want to swing my own swing.

Masanao told me, ‘It is important to take your own swing. He also gave me a lot of other advice, and this year I changed my appearance song to “Something One” (Waka-Danna), which Masanao had used until last year, so that I can remember it when I go up to bat.

Tonomiya won his first batting title this season (batting average of .307) and was a key figure in the team’s three consecutive league championships. We asked him about the golden words of his seniors who changed him and the trajectory of his rapid growth.

Tongu started playing baseball when he was in the first grade of elementary school.

He said, “I had a net set up in the parking lot of our house, and I practiced hitting with my father. His father was a pitcher for a softball team of working adults. I am so grateful to my father, who continues to watch my games even now. I would swing the bat all the time, with no set number of swings, until I felt comfortable with my swing.”

It is a well-known story that Yoshinobu Yamamoto (25), the future ace of the Orix, lived next door to the Tongu family in Bizen City, Okayama Prefecture, two years younger than his father. In an interview with the sports magazine “Number,” Yamamoto recalled, “Yuma-kun (Tonmiya) was swinging the bat all the time. Every day, all the time.

A hard-hitting catcher, Tonomiya went on to Okayama University of Science High School in his hometown, where he played “No. 4 catcher” from the fall of his freshman year, and after graduation he went on to Asia University. However, …….

I was not able to throw the ball as I intended. I couldn’t throw the ball back to the pitcher as well as I wanted to, and I suffered so much that I thought, ‘I don’t want to look at the ball anymore,’ or ‘I don’t even want to look at the motion of throwing the ball.

What made me look forward was the words of Tsutomu Ikuta, then manager of Asia University (57), who said, “Those who stand above others should suffer. I suppressed my desire to run away and checked my throwing video over and over again. I found things to correct and overcame the yips over the course of nearly a year.

In the spring of his junior year, he was selected as one of the best nine players in the Tokyo Metropolitan League, and in his senior year he became the captain of the team and was selected to represent Japan in the Japan-U.S. Collegiate Baseball Tournament. In 1919, he was drafted second overall by the Orix, and made his debut as a starter in the season opener against Nippon Ham as the “No. 5 third baseman,” even though he was a rookie. However, he experienced adversity here as well.

I think the decision to use me at third base, which I had never experienced before, was based on their evaluation of my hitting ability. I thought lightly, ‘If I hit the ball to my big body and dropped it in front of me, I should be able to get by. But the professional world is not easy. I made a lot of errors without understanding what was going on. My anxiety about my unfamiliar defense affected my hitting as well, and I gradually lost sight of myself and was demoted to the second team.

He hit three homers in the Japan Series against Hanshin (PHOTO: Kyodo News)

Tonomiya was saved by then second-team manager Satoshi Nakajima (54, current first-team manager). Nakajima told Tongu, “Don’t leave any regrets.

Don’t leave any regrets.

Tonomiya made a direct appeal to GM Junichi Fukura (63) to return to the catcher’s position. He asked GM Junichi Fukura (63) to let him try again at his main job. After his defensive concerns were resolved, Tongu gradually regained his natural hitting ability, and in 1947, he hit double-digit homers (11) for the first time with a .226 batting average. The turning point came in the off-season of the same year.

I had a training session with Hotaka Yamakawa (32), the main gun of the Seibu team. Over dinner, we talked about various things, and he said to me, ‘You have to hit the ball hard to center field. He told me, “You should continue to hit strong pitches to center field for a year. I guess he meant that I should stick to my own style of hitting, rather than changing my style to suit the opposing pitcher.

When I heard that he was talking about his own style, Masanao Yoshida came to mind. Yoshida always tried to hit the ball hard, especially to center field. Whenever a question came to Tonomiya’s mind, he would send a message to Yoshida in the United States.

He said, “Masanao and I were teammates until last year, but we rarely talked about baseball. At the time, I was just hitting the ball as it came to me without thinking. I didn’t even have a question to ask Masanao.

But after I started thinking and playing baseball, questions came to my mind one after another. …… Masanao-san has given me all kinds of advice, such as, ‘Try quicker timing’ and ‘Your knees are too bent.

There is another senior player who has given me golden advice. Tomoya Mori (28), who joined the team from Seibu this season, is fond of Tongu, calling him “Ton.

Tongu boasts a strong bat, but he struggled in May, hitting zero home runs. Mori says to him, “You don’t have to swing so hard.

If your batting average goes up, you can hit homers. If your batting average goes up, home runs will naturally increase.

From May to June, his monthly batting average rose from .369 to .372, and his home runs increased from 0 to 7. Since he has power to begin with, it is only natural that when he hits a ball on the core, it will fly. Mori also offered this advice: “Even if you don’t get results, you can still hit the ball.

Even if you don’t get any results, if you are hitting the ball well, you shouldn’t change your hitting style.

These words are in line with the “Do my bestswing” advice I mentioned at the beginning of this article. Mori was also a man who cared. Tonomiya recalls.

Tonomiya recalls, “Right after the Japan Series (with Hanshin) ended, I received a call out of the blue from ……. I wondered what it was, but what he gave me was a Rolex watch. I guess he must have remembered that I had been saying in the locker room for some time that I wanted a watch. He said it was a celebration of winning the top spot in the batting order. I’m so happy, I wear it all the time.

Overcoming adversity through the words of his mentors and seniors, Tonomiya’s talent finally blossomed. Tonomiya shouts “Hoisai!” during hero interviews and other occasions. (a gag by Kojisak, the second son of popular YouTube star Kajisak), which Tonomiya shouts during hero interviews and other occasions.

He wrote his goal for next season on a colorful piece of paper in his own handwriting. I want to hit 40 home runs and become the home run king.
He wears a luxury watch on his wrist, a gift from Mori. He is all smiles, saying, “Isn’t he so cool?
Interview with Hiruma Tongu of the Orix baseball team, not previously published in this issue: “Golden words of my seniors that saved me when I was in trouble.

From the December 22, 2023 issue of FRIDAY

  • PHOTO Hiroyuki Komatsu, Kyodo News (2nd photo)

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