Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Japan’s record-breaking baseball phenomenon with a tragic past



Japan’s record-breaking baseball phenomenon with a tragic past

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Lotte Marines pitcher Roki Sasaki smiles during the Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) match between the Chiba Lotte Marines and Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters. AFP

Japan’s record-breaking baseball phenomenon with a tragic past

At just 20, Japan’s Roki Sasaki has already achieved what most pitchers can only dream of – a perfect game. Then he followed it up by very nearly doing it again.

The Lotte Marines right-hander sparked a frenzy earlier this month when he became the first pitcher to deliver a perfect game in Japan in 28 years, as well as the youngest person ever to do so in the baseball-mad country.

A perfect game in baseball is when no opposing batter reaches base and it has been achieved by just 23 pitchers in the US major league and 16 in Japan, including Sasaki. None have achieved the feat twice.

And after bagging 13 consecutive strikeouts in that game against the Orix Buffaloes – a new record – last weekend Sasaki proved his performance was far from a fluke, delivering eight perfect innings before being pulled by his coach to protect his arm.

“Two straight perfect games, which has never been done in Japan or US Major League Baseball, didn’t quite happen. But the right-hander... made everyone imagine historic moments to come,” Sports Nippon wrote.

Sasaki also made international headlines. US media has described him as a “phenom”, with one sports writer speculating American baseball fans would be “drooling in anticipation” over a possible stateside move.

But Japanese league rules require players to see out nine seasons before becoming free agents to go overseas.

Teams can post their players for MLB clubs, but fees for those under 25 years of age are limited under the rules, making it a less attractive prospect.

Sasaki has met the furore with trademark reserve, telling local media the day after his perfect game that he was already looking ahead to his next performance.

Sasaki, who comes from Japan’s northeastern Iwate region, has a tragic back story.

As a young boy his world was turned upside down by the devastating 2011 earthquake-tsunami which wrought destruction in northeastern Japan.

His father and grandparents were killed and his home was destroyed.

MOST VIEWED

  • Ice cream, noodles flagged over carcinogen

    The General Department of Customs and Excise of Cambodia (GDCE) has identified three types of instant noodles and ice cream trademarks originating from Thailand, Vietnam and France that are suspected to contain ethylene oxide, which poses a cancer risk to consumers. The general department has

  • Exclusive interview with Josep Borrell Fontelles, High Representative of the EU

    CAMBODIA is hosting the 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) and Related Meetings this week with top officials from the US, China, and Russia and other countries in the region slated to attend and to meet with face-to-face with their counterparts on the sidelines. In

  • Rise in Thai air routes to Siem Reap fuels travel hopes

    Local tourism industry players are eager for regional airline Bangkok Airways Pcl’s resumption of direct flight services between the Thai capital and Siem Reap town on August 1 – home of Cambodia’s awe-inspiring Angkor Archaeological Park – which is expected to boost the growth rate of

  • ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ meet commences, Taiwan issue possibly on table

    The 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) and related meetings hosted by Cambodia kicks off in Phnom Penh on August 3, with progress, challenges, and the way forward for the ASEAN Community-building on the table. Issues on Taiwan, sparked by the visit of US House Speaker

  • Angkor lifetime pass, special Siem Reap travel offers planned

    The Ministry of Tourism plans to introduce a convenient, single lifetime pass for foreign travellers to visit Angkor Archaeological Park and potentially other areas. The move is designed to stimulate tourism to the culturally rich province of Siem Reap as the start of the “Visit

  • Recap of this year’s ASEAN FM meet and look ahead

    This year’s edition of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) hosted by Cambodia comes against the backdrop of heightened global tensions and increasing rivalry between major powers that have been compared to the animosity of the Cold War era. The following is The Post’