Meijidai Nakano Hachioji Baseball Club Eyes to Win the Koshien National High School Baseball Championships | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Meijidai Nakano Hachioji Baseball Club Eyes to Win the Koshien National High School Baseball Championships

The Story of the Meihachi Baseball Club (7) What will the seniors leave behind for their juniors?

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He is just one step away from his dream of playing in the Koshien. Despite the restrictions placed on him by his school, which is one of the best preparatory schools in Tokyo, there is a man who still earnestly aims to make it to the Koshien National High School Baseball Championships. He is Takafumi Sugihara, manager of the Meijidai Nakano Hachioji Baseball Club. This 240-day documentary closely follows his struggles and anguish as well as the physical and mental growth of his students.

The members of the Meijidai Nakano Hachioji High School baseball team held a meeting with the players after their heavy defeat in the Tokyo Metropolitan High School Spring Baseball Tournament. What should we do to win? What kind of baseball do we want to play? The answer they came up with was to go back to their slogan once again.

There is not much time left for the summer tournament, which will be the culmination of their efforts. The coach, Takafumi Sugihara, also explained that dramatic change requires a certain amount of determination. The team is not doing well, but the decisions of the third-year students are shaking up the team.

The instructional scene on hitting

 The hesitation and conflict of the manager, Sugihara


In the summer of 2009, when this team was launched, the first thing the students discussed and decided on was the theme for the team. We did not have a team of students with high individual abilities like the previous year’s team. Therefore, we will try to embody 100% of what we can do. We will make sure to do this not only in games but also in practice and in our individual time with baseball. By bringing together all of the students, they form a team and make it a strong one.

Immediately after losing in the third round of the spring tournament, where the seeding for the summer tournament was decided, Sugihara asked the students how they wanted to proceed in the days leading up to the summer tournament.

If I have to run as fast as I can, I will run without letting up until the last step. If you are going to swing a bat, swing with all you got until the last swing. Give meaning to each and every action. Consistency is not as easy as it seems. No one can do it for you. Fighting with one’s self is hard for everyone. But we don’t want to end up regretting it later.

Sugihara, too, continues to search for the best way to help the team mature in the face of the many restrictions imposed by the Corona disaster. He says he has been reducing his approach to third-year students since spring but has been unable to get good feedback.

After practice, Captain Hosaka reflects on how he should prepare the students for the future. He thinks they are at the stage of coaching themselves. However, for him, they still lack self-esteem. Their lack of excitement might be due to the reduced opportunities for one-on-one coaching – if he should be stern with them as he has been in the past or not. 

Sugihara hesitates and he seems conflicted. He just wants his students to be achievers like their senior predecessors.


 The seniors have left us their own legacies, not only in terms of winning and losing but also in the way they work hard. The daily actions of the third-year students are very important to what they want to leave behind. The team has not been able to achieve the desired results and is not doing well individually. It may be difficult, but third-year students should learn to lead the team more.

 It is not about the results, but how aggressive they are in their willingness to win. They should be able to learn by themselves even without their captain pointing this out. 

They should come out of their shell and carry the responsibility of the team’s destiny. There is no need to fear failure. Sugihara will take the responsibility for the final result. However, it is up to the pride of the students to establish and stick to the baseball of this team and what they will carve in the history of the Meihachi baseball team.


 Return of ace candidate, Kotaro Haneda

Ace candidate Haneda returns to the team

On May 5, a third-year student returned to the struggling team. He was an ace candidate for the fall tournament in 2009, but he suffered a serious injury in an open tournament in August, an injury that left him feeling hopeless. After his surgery, Sugihara gave Haneda a chance to speak in front of his friends.


“I didn’t realize how hard it would be to not be able to play baseball.” 

Tears spilled down his face and can’t speak. Sugihara’s heart also tightened at the sight, but he wanted all the students to feel what they have been taking for granted.

At first, there was no guarantee that we would be able to make it in time for summer. Nevertheless, Haneda, who spent all his time in rehabilitation while fighting back his frustration, showed an impressive recovery.

His first appearance in eight and a half months on the mound was a difficult one. It was against Sagamihara High School, a strong Kanagawa team, as he gave up many runs in the first inning. 

 After the game, Sugihara’s first words were, “I was happy. I am really happy that he was able to pitch well. The result was bittersweet, but I know how hard it has been for him for the past eight months.”

It was not until Golden Week that he had been in the bullpen and still wearing a jersey. However, when Sugihara suggested that Haneda pitch from May 3 to 5 if he could, Haneda shook his head and decided to return to the bullpen, looking at Sugihara with a powerful gaze.

 For Sugihara, Haneda has the strongest desire than anyone else to do it himself. He could sense his determination and responsibility that he is the only one who can do it. That’s the reason he challenged him to play for the best hitting team. Haneda is the one who can create a chemical reaction and be the savior of this team.

It is difficult to estimate Haneda’s potential from here on out. The strength of his desire will allow him to grow no matter how far he has to go. It is only natural that Haruto Watanabe, who has been number one in the fall and spring tournaments, would also be inspired.

 Haruto, too, had a chance to change after his humiliating loss in the spring tournament. He told the students that they would reset everything after the spring tournament. He wants them to compete with students who can convince others and behave like an ace, especially in the number 1 position.

Much to Sugihara’s delight, Shogo Okano has participated after taking a year off from school due to a serious illness and did not give up on his third year of high school baseball.

 A heavy decision to give up his regular position and go to the support team.

The day before the tournament, some third-year students made a noble decision. Shunki Machida came to tell Sugihara that he was going to play a supporting role.

 Macida said, “I think it will be difficult for me to join the team even if I do my best now. I will look for ways to contribute to the team, differently.

 I know I will have regrets, but can I do it.”

Machida’s determination was unshakable.

Machida and Shishika (left) support the team as knockers.

Machida and Shishika (left) support the team as knockers.

Machida is a man who looks at himself objectively and makes decisions with courage and determination, without turning his back on reality, even when he does not want to. This experience will be his source of strength for the many turning points in his life in the future.

 Machida was also a child with many injuries, and just when he was about to get better and do his best, the pain would come back again. However, a team needs to function in a variety of roles, including those who play an active role in games, those who help out on the bench, those who inspire their friends from the stands, those who help out behind the scenes, those who compile data, and those who take care of the younger players.

 What will the third-year students leave behind? I think that is the key. I am going to ask Machida to talk about what kind of determination he has made on the day when all the members gather together.

Machida’s words will surely touch the hearts of his classmates and juniors as he practices knocking while being taught tips by Yuichi Tomita, the head of the team.

Sugihara, too, is about to make the most difficult decision of the year.

(Continue to Part 8)

  • Interview cooperation Fumihiko Washizaki

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