Tetsuya Utsumi of Seibu retires at the end of this season… “The truth about his release from the Giants as told to this magazine”.
Another great pitcher has put an end to his active career.
He is Tetsuya Utsumi, 40, a left-handed pitcher for Seibu, who has won a total of 135 games, the fifth most among active pitchers. In May, he became the 92nd pitcher in history to reach the 2,000-pitch milestone. He said he decided to retire after reaching these two milestones.
In August, he gathered his wife and four children and told them of his retirement. The family was in tears and crying raggedly. Utsumi is a very caring person. In every team, pitchers and fielders practice separately, and there are some barriers between them. Utsumi actively invited the fielders to dinner and tried to lower the barrier as much as possible. Not only his performance as a player, but also his attitude was highly regarded, and from this year he also took on the role of pitching coach.
Utsumi was first drafted in 2000, when he was a junior at Tsuruga Kehi High School in Fukui Prefecture. The Orix selected him with the first pick. However, Utsumi refused the pick.
I had a strong admiration for the Giants,” Utsumi said. His grandfather, Isao, was a former outfielder for the Giants, and his mother, Hiroko, told him about his grandfather’s successes from an early age. Just before the draft, he announced that he would not go to anyone but the Giants. The Orix, who had hardballed him, was directly persuaded by then manager Akira Ohgi. Even so, Utsumi’s feelings for the Giants outweighed the Orix’s enthusiasm, and he refused to bow to them.
Unexpectedly, Utsumi was not protected.
After rejecting Orix’s offer, Utsumi joined Tokyo Gas, and in 2003 he became a free agent and joined the Giants.
In his third year as a pro, he won double-digit games for the first time in 2006, and in 2011 and 2012, he won the most wins for two consecutive years. He became the ace of the Giants, and was also appointed as the player president.
However, he was forced to leave the Giants, which he adored, when he was forced to leave …….
In 2006, Utsumi was assigned to Seibu as compensation for Gininro Sumitani, who had joined the Giants as a free agent in 2006. Utsumi had supported the Giants’ pitching staff for 15 years as the core of their starting lineup, but he had been omitted from the human compensation protections. At the time, Utsumi was interviewed by “FRIDAY” (February 15, 2007 issue) and spoke of his shock at being released by the Giants. Utsumi told the interviewer at home that he had talked about the transfer.
When I told my wife (Mrs. Satoko) about the transfer at home, she was speechless. （Two years ago (when Ryoma Nogami was transferred from Seibu as an FA), I had told her that he might leave the Giants because he was not on the protected list. My wife is also very attached to the Giants, so it must have been a shock to her when it became a reality.
I told her, ‘Even if I wanted to stay with the Giants, it would be impossible, so let’s think positively. On the day the transfer was announced, I went to the Giants’ team office to say goodbye and was greeted by many people at ……. I was so sad to leave the team I had played for for many years, rather than frustrated, that I couldn’t stop the tears from spilling……. I couldn’t greet him well, thanks to that.
Utsumi was not discouraged by the move to Seibu, and although he had few opportunities to pitch for the first team, he began training early in the morning at the second team’s facility. After completing his training routine, he began mentoring the younger players.
In an interview with “FRIDAY,” Utsumi said, “Until now, I have not seen people suffer.
Until now, I have been averse to people seeing me suffer, but I can no longer take it easy. I think the younger players are watching my back, and I will practice with a sense of urgency even at Seibu.
From now on, as a mentor, he is likely to use his own experience to help the younger generation grow.
Photographed by： Sono Aida