Former Teammates Prevented Shogo Akiyama from Returning to Seibu Lions
Shogo Akiyama, 34, of the Hiroshima Toyo Carp baseball team, who returned to the Japanese baseball world after a two-and-a-half-year absence from the U.S. baseball world, was promoted to the first team from the game against Chunichi on August 8 at the Vantelin Dome Nagoya, as manager Shinji Sasaoka had declared. In his third game, on the 10th, he showed off his offensive and defensive abilities by making a laser-beam shot to the third baseman who was trying to touch up the ball.
Why didn’t Akiyama wear the blue uniform of his old team, Seibu Lions, which was considered his best bet?
Some say it was because he did not want to take his junior teammate’s position, or because Hiroshima had Ryosuke Kikuchi and Tsubasa Aizawa, who played with him in the National Japan team. However, the TV person asserted, “That was not the only reason he made the decision.”
“When Akiyama decided to return to the Japanese baseball world, Seibu was the first to approach him and showed its sincerity, but in direct negotiations it offered him a two-year contract that included this season, half of which had already passed. It was obvious that SoftBank would offer him a large contract of more than three years, but this offer shows that they were not serious,” said a TV insider.
“At the Seibu Holdings shareholders’ meeting on June 22, he said, ‘I sincerely hope to win this contract. I want him to lead the Lions to victory as a candidate for future manager.’ There were questions from shareholders such as, ‘Don’t let SoftBank catch him.’ The fans’ desire for the return of the former team leader was strong, and it is likely that they were just trying to look good. It is possible that Seibu did not really want Akiyama back.”
Akiyama himself also told people around him that “there are people who don’t think well of my returning to Seibu,” hinting at the existence of a “rift” between the team and its old home.
“The history of the rift goes back to four years ago,” said a desk clerk at a sports newspaper. “It started in the 2018 Japan-U.S. Baseball Tournament. Including Akiyama, Hotaka Yamakawa (30), the Pacific League home run king who leads the current Seibu team, and regular catcher Tomoya Mori (26) were also selected as members of the team.”