What kind of player was ‘Joseon’s No. 4 batsman’? Respect for Japan’s ‘Ganpan’ “I really, really admired him”
“A hitter I really admire”
Lee Dae-ho, who was nicknamed “Joseon’s No. 4 hitter” during his career, hung up his uniform for the last time last year. In the KBO, he played as a “one-club man” for the Lotte Giants, finishing his career with a batting average of .309 in 2199 games with 374 hits, 1425 RBIs, 972 runs scored, and 374 home runs. His seven batting titles in 2010 are the “only” in the KBO, and he also holds the record for hitting a home run in nine consecutive games (an unofficial world record).
He also shined in overseas leagues and international competitions. Starting with the 2006 Doha Asian Games, Lee wore the Korean flag seven times, helping Korea win the 2008 Beijing Olympics in a “sweep” and lift the trophy at the 2015 WBSC Premier12. His time with the Seattle Mariners in Major League Baseball was brief, but he made an impact in 104 games with 74 hits, 14 home runs, and a .253 batting average.
In Nippon Professional Baseball, this was by far the highest level for a foreign player in Japan. In four seasons with the Orix Buffaloes and SoftBank Hawks, Lee hit .293 with 622 hits, 98 home runs and a .622 batting average in 570 games. He led SoftBank to championships in 2014 and 2015 and became the first Korean player to win the Japan Series MVP title in 2015.
SoftBank hasn’t neglected the “connection,” even though Lee only played for two years. To celebrate the 85th anniversary of the club’s founding and the 30th anniversary of the PayPay Dome’s opening, SoftBank invited Lee to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before the 28th game against the Chiba Lotte Marines. Lee arrived in Fukuoka on the 26th, watched the game on the 27th, and held the official ceremony on the 28th.
During his visit to the PayPay Dome before the game between SoftBank and Chiba Rodeo on the 27th, Lee reunited with his former teammates Akira Nakamura and Yuki Yanagita, the “Mr. Full Swing” of SoftBank and Nippon Professional Baseball, catcher Takuya Kai, who recently won the World Baseball Classic (WBC) as the starting catcher, and former manager Koji Akiyama, who was the manager of SoftBank in his first season with the team.
When Lee took the field, Akira Nakamura jumped up from his stretches to shake Lee’s hand and say hello, and Yanagita ran toward Lee and greeted him with a 90-degree bend. Daeho Lee and Yanagita also joked about their hairstyles, 메이저사이트 showing off their close friendship.
“SoftBank is the team that allowed me to enjoy the thrill of my first championship,” Lee said. “Yanagita, Nakamura, Kai, and Makihara (Taisei) were all juniors and the youngest players. Now they’re starters and they’re superstars. Seeing them all as seniors made me realize how much time has changed,” he smiles.
“I told him, ‘I’ll be watching you from above, so do it right,’ but it felt so good to get three hits and a walk-off,” he said, especially after Yanagita’s three-hit game on the 27th. Yanagita is so good, but I was even happier for Makihara because it was his first home run of the year. I felt like I got a gift because the guy who was the big hitter and the big defender when I was there did well.”