The prince of handkerchiefs who wowed the Koshien Stadium is retiring.
On October 1, Yuki Saito (32) of Nippon Ham announced the following comment through the team.
“I have made the decision to retire at the end of this season. I have not been able to live up to your expectations, but I would like to thank all the fans who supported me until the end. I was happy to have played with the best players in the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters for about 11 years.
In his first year as a professional pitcher, he had a 6-6 record, but after that his performance went downhill due to a series of injuries, and since 2006 he has not won a game in the first team, with a total record of 15 wins and 26 losses, and a save percentage of 4.34.
He has been popular since his days at Waseda Jitsugyo, and his gesture of wiping sweat off his face with a handkerchief attracts fans, especially female fans. He was a popular player from his days at Waseda Jitsugyo. On the other hand, she was sometimes bashed for her sluggish performance. FRIDAY Digital” interviewed Saito for an hour in August 2007. He spoke frankly about criticism and his views on baseball. I would like to reprint excerpts of what he said.
I haven’t been able to produce results in the past few years. Some people say that the fact that he is still able to pitch in the first team is “special treatment” for the star of Koshien. ……
“I’m not sure what to make of that. I’m not in a position to tell you.
I’m not sure what to make of that.
“I know that there is a lot of criticism in the press and on the Internet. I know there is a lot of criticism in the press and on the Internet, but I think the fact that there is criticism is proof that I am still attracting attention. I try to think as positively as possible. I think it’s because they love me that they scold me.
That’s very positive.
” No, no, no. No, it’s not “positive. I’m just trying to think positively. When I was in high school, I really didn’t want to be written up by the media. However, I was told by my university (Waseda University) coach and some of the alumni, “People in the world don’t really care if something strange is written about you. Since then, I’ve tried to ignore it to some extent.
Do you ever get depressed?
“Yes, I do. I was so frustrated when I gave up four runs in the third inning against Orix on August 6, 2007. However, just being depressed is not enough to make progress. In this game as well, I was able to hold them scoreless in the first two innings. The runs were all in the third inning. So I only reflected on my pitches in the third inning and tried to think positively that I could be successful in short innings.
What do you see yourself doing 10 years from now?
What do you think you are lacking?
“Hmmm………. The power of my fastball. I’m confident in my breaking ball. However, my fastball isn’t fast enough, so I haven’t been able to use my breaking ball. If I had a fastball that could reach 150 km/h, I could use my breaking ball much more effectively.” “I think it is possible to increase the speed of my straight ball, even though I am over 30 years old.
What do you do when you’re not playing baseball?
“I read a lot of books. I read a lot of books. Recently, I read “Business Strategy in Major League Baseball”. I wanted to learn about the background of baseball, such as the flow of money.
How do you see yourself in 10 years?
“It’s hard to say. Of course I want to be active, but even if I’m not, I want to be involved in baseball. For example, I would like to do research on why a baseball player who threw 1,000 pitches in Koshien did not break his shoulder. ……
You are now 31 years old. Are you planning to get married soon?
“I have a strong desire to get married. I also love children. But right now, I’m thinking about baseball from morning to night. …… I’m looking for a good match.
Saito announced his marriage to an ordinary woman at the end of 2007, and he answered that he wanted to be involved in baseball even after 10 years. He will continue to contribute to the baseball world with his clever mind and high popularity even after he retires.
Photo by： Takashi Yamazaki