“I learned manners in Korea.” The Japanese series winning pitcher still hasn’t forgotten the moment
In the first game of the 2023 Japan Series on the 28th, the Orix Buffaloes suffered a shocking 0-8 loss to the Hanshin Tigers as Yoshinobu Yamamoto, the best pitcher who has won the Sawamura Award for three consecutive years, collapsed with 10 hits, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts, and 7 runs in 5⅔ innings. suffered defeat. However, in the second game held on the 29th, they took revenge with the same score of 8-0, bringing the series back to square one with 1 win and 1 loss.
At the center of Orix’s counterattack in Game 2 was fourth-year left-handed pitcher Hiroya Miyagi . Miyagi, who appeared as a starter, threw 104 pitches until the 6th inning and dominated the Hanshin powerhouse with a pitching performance that allowed 4 hits, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts, and no runs. He controlled the pace with a fastball of up to 148km and a slow curve of as low as 85km, and freely used sharp sliders and forkballs.
As much as his outstanding pitching, he also attracted attention with his considerate behavior. On the 30th, Japanese baseball media outlet ‘Full Count’ highlighted Miyagi’s behavior of picking up the opposing batter’s bat and handing it to the ball boy after scoring the last out of the inning under the title ‘Miyagi’s consideration shown even on the big stage, courtesy learned in Korea’.
This was seen often during the season, and Miyagi’s behavior was the same even in the big game of the Japan Series. Full Count said, ‘Miyagi learned this kind of sportsmanship when he was 18 years old. Miyagi, who was selected for the Japanese high school national team, participated in the U-18 Baseball World Cup held in Korea in 2019 and vividly remembers the first pitch he threw in the second game of the Super Round against Korea.
Miyagi said, “The ball hit the body, but it hit the batter’s head. When he immediately took off his hat and apologized, the opposing player also bowed his head. “I remember that scene,” he said. “The moment I hit the ball, the atmosphere in the baseball stadium changed. I remember feeling relieved when the opposing player smiled and the audience gave me warm applause.”
The day that remains vivid in Miyagi’s memory was the U-18 Baseball World Cup Super Round Korea-Japan match held in Gijang-gun, Busan on September 6, 2019. Miyagi, who was a Japanese relief pitcher at the time, hit the head of a Korean batter in the 9th inning with 2 outs and runners on first base. He let the ball slip out of his hand and hit the batter’s helmet. Luckily, the batter didn’t seem to be too shocked and walked to first base, and Miyagi took off his hat to express his apologies. Then the batter took off his helmet and bowed to accept the apology.
The batter at that time was outfielder Lee Joo-hyung , who has emerged as the future of Kiwoom Heroes. At the time, tensions were high due to the deterioration of Korea-Japan relations, but the mature sportsmanship of the two Korean and Japanese youth players, Miyagi and Lee Joo-hyung, resonated deeply. The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) also posted a video of this scene along with the word ‘Respect’ on social media, which became a hot topic. 안전놀이터
Miyagi said, “The ball completely slipped out of my hand. As he walked to first base, he apologized several times, and the opposing player also said ‘it’s okay’ when we made eye contact. “I was surprised that he even took off his helmet (to accept my apology) even though he was playing,” he said. In full count, he said, ‘The courtesy I learned in international competitions still lives on in every game.’
Despite his short height of 171cm, Miyagi is a left-handed three-quarters player who is good at stealing timing through double kicking and speed control. He joined Orix as the first pick in the 2019 draft. In his first full-time season in 2021, he was named Pacific League Rookie of the Year after playing 23 games (147 innings) with 13 wins, 4 losses, and an ERA of 2.51. Last year, he played 24 games (148 ⅓ innings) with 11 wins, 8 losses, and an average ERA of 3.16, and was selected to the Japanese national team for the World Baseball Classic (WBC). All he had was a relief appearance in one game against the Czech Republic in the first round (5 innings, 1 run saved), but he was a member of Japan’s WBC winning team. Building on the momentum, he had his best season this year with 22 games (146⅔ innings), 10 wins, 4 losses, and an ERA of 2.27.
Lee Joo-hyung, who was hit by Miyagi’s ball, was recognized for his batting talent and was selected by the LG Twins as the 13th overall pick in the second round of 2020. Although he completed his military service early due to his active duty, he did not have a chance to play in the first team at LG, which has a large player base. He spent most of his time in the second team, but after being traded to Kiwoom at the end of July, his potential exploded as he received a full-fledged first team opportunity. After transferring to Kiwoom, he played an active part with a batting average of .333 (66 hits in 200 at-bats), 6 home runs, 34 RBIs, and an OPS of .911 in 51 games, greatly raising expectations for him as the second Lee Jeong-hoo. It is unfortunate that he suffered a left thigh muscle injury at the end of the season and was unable to join the national team for the Asian Professional Baseball Championship (APBC) to be held in Tokyo, Japan next month.