The Japanese professional baseball Hanshin Tigers won the Central League championship for the first time in 18 years.
On the night of the 14th, when the team confirmed the championship by defeating their rival Yomiuri Giants 4-3, the home Koshien Stadium was as excited as a furnace. In a moment of joy, the camera caught uniforms with the number 24 engraved waving among the players enjoying the joy. Former Hanshin player Shintaro Yokota, who died at the age of 28 from a brain tumor last July, wore it during his active years.
According to local media such as the Yomiuri Shimbun on the 15th, as the championship got closer, player Fumihito Haraguchi, who had overcome colon cancer, proposed that he wanted to wear Yokoda’s uniform, and his classmates supported him, so he went to Koshien, the home stadium, with the consent of his parents in the deceased’s hometown. brought it
Mr. Masayuki (60), whose father, a former professional baseball player, watched the game on TV at his home in Hioki City, Kagoshima Prefecture, Kyushu, choked up, saying, “My son was able to meet teammates and fans and live a good baseball life.”
Yokota, a former player from Kagoshima Technical High School, was selected by Hanshin as the second overall pick in the 2014 draft. He was expected to be a large outfielder with slugging power and a strong arm. Since the opening game of 2016, he has occupied the starting position in the first team. But trouble soon came. The following year, during spring camp, he showed symptoms of unexplained headaches and blurred vision. As a result of the examination, it was determined that he had a brain tumor. He received chemotherapy and surgical treatment, but his deteriorated vision did not return, so he announced his retirement in 2019.
It was his last game played in the second division after announcing his decision to retire. Former Yokota maintained his position as center fielder, barely able to see the ball due to his poor eyesight. After catching a batted ball with 2 outs and runners on second base, he threw the ball home on a no-bounds basis and caught the runner on second base. This play is called the ‘Miracle Back Home’ in Japan. It was produced and aired as a TV drama last year.
According to his father, former player Yokoda was hospitalized in the summer of 2020 because the cancer had spread to his spine. As he continues to interact with critically ill patients and give lectures, he is said to have used Hanshin’s performance and fans’ support as support for his heart.
On this day, the Hanshin players played with their former teammate in their hearts. Pitcher Iwasada took the mound in the 9th inning with the background music of “Bridge of Glory” (栄光の架橋), which was the motivation for joining the team when he was at bat during his lifetime. Fans sang in unison.
After closing pitcher Suguru Iwasaki threw out the last batter, the entire team came to the mound and jumped up and down to celebrate the victory, wearing former Yokoda’s uniform. Pitcher Iwasaki was holding the deceased’s uniform in his hand as he flew into the air three times, receiving rinses from his teammates.
The father, who watched the moment of joy on behalf of his son, said, “I had no idea the players would do this much. “My son will be happy at Koshien with everyone,” he said.안전놀이터
Mother Manami said, “I am sure Shintaro was at Koshien this evening. “When I saw uniform number 24 dancing in the air, I fell into the illusion that it was Shintaro dancing in the uniform,” she said, expressing gratitude to her son’s colleagues for their consideration.