The relief and many of them were erected when my brother participated in Koshien. Of course, many of them dreamed of playing in the Koshien Stadium when they were children.“I broke my right elbow during my senior year of college, and it cost me a tremendous amount of money for treatment and rehabilitation at a personal gym. When I was debating whether or not to continue baseball after treatment, the trainer at the gym told me, ‘If you’re going to do it, do it thoroughly, and be prepared to do it.’ As a parent, I have the impression that it has changed even more after the injury.”
The mother of Taisei (22), the Giants’ Dora rookie of the year, said, “Although he suffered his first loss on May 8 against Yakult, he has made saves in seven consecutive games since his debut. Osei has become the new guardian god of the Giants. His fastball (159 km/h) and slider, known as his ‘magic pitch,’ are his weapons, but what makes batters despair is his ‘steel mentality,’ in which he does not raise an eyebrow even with runners on base for the final out. How did he cultivate such an unwavering spirit that is unmatched by rookies?”
Taisei was born and raised in a town in the mountains of Taka County, Hyogo Prefecture. He joined the Yachiyo Boys Baseball Club when he was in the first grade of elementary school and began playing softball. Later, in junior high school, he joined the “IceBoys,” a hardball team.
Takuya Inoue, a teammate from the Ice Boys, said, “He was a mood maker in the Boys team.”
“I was a mood maker in the Boys. I wasn’t the captain, but I was in charge of the team. At first I played shortstop, but because I could hit the ball very fast, I was used as a pitcher. There were two catchers on the team, and one of them told the manager, ‘I’m afraid of Ota’s pitch, so I can’t take it. I think he was already hitting 130 km/h from then on.’”
Even in junior high school, Taisei showed glimpses of the big man he would become. His father, Yasuo, recalls how he started playing baseball.
“I used to play baseball, too, but I think it was largely because of my older brother’s influence that Taisei took up the sport. My brothers and I used to play catch on the street in front of our house.”
Like Taisei, his older brother, who is four years older than Taisei, graduated from the Ice Boys and entered Hyogo Prefectural Nishiwaki Technical High School, where he played baseball as an ace in the 13th grade. In 2013, he led the school to its first appearance in the Summer Koshien Tournament as the ace. His older sister is also an OG of Nishiwaki Technical High School and is currently a track and field athlete for Tenmaya. Taisei also went to Nishiwaki High School, like his older brothers and sisters, and rode his bicycle along a 20-kilometer mountain road each way. Yutaka Nagai, the representative of the Ice Boys, said, “He is a man who cannot tell a lie.”
“He has a character that makes it impossible for him to lie, and I think he is telling the truth when he says, ‘I wouldn’t be nervous about pitching on a professional mound.’ At the boys’ graduation ceremony, he even started crying, saying he wanted to go to Kobe Kokusai (University of International Studies) High School. Even so, I think his older brother was a big factor for Taisei, who went on to Nishiwaki Technical High School.”
He is a local hero, as he single-handedly led Nishiwaki Technical to the Koshien. For many who went on to the same boys’ and high school, his biggest rival must have been his older brother. He hated it when people said, ‘Your brother was great,’ and perhaps that rebellious spirit made him stronger.
In the end, Taisei was unable to lead Nishiwaki to the Koshien Tournament. However, he later joined the Giants after graduating from Kansai International University, and on April 17, he achieved his long-cherished dream on the professional pitching stage, earning his first save in a Koshien game against the Hanshin Tigers. Mr. Inoue told us about his recent correspondence with many people.
“Around March, I asked Ota if he wanted to go to Koshien (near his hometown) to watch the game. Then he said, ‘You can come to the All-Star game.’ I think he had a good feeling that he could make it as a professional baseball player even before the season started. He is the type of person with a big heart and a strong will to do what he says, which is rare these days.”
He is not just a big mouth, but a firm confidence that supports his pitching.