The baseball went over the right-field wall and each of the rows of seats beyond.
Seiya Suzuki’s home run in Japan’s 10 inning 7-6 win over the United States started near here, about 25 miles northeast of Yokohama Stadium in the Arakawa district of Tokyo.
There, in a room in his family residence that was turned into a covered batting cage by his father, Suzuki embarked on a journey that made him Japan’s clean-up hitter at these Olympics, and some day make you the next high profile in your country. export to the big leagues.
The story sounded familiar, a disciplined father training his son in the Machiya neighborhood of Arakawa. That was also the plot of the early parts of “Kyojin No Hoshi,” or “The Star of the Giants,” a serialized comic in which the main character was a baseball player named Hyuma Hoshi.
Fifty years after its last episode aired, the animated version of “Kyojin No Hoshi” is still a touchstone of Japanese culture, so much so that almost anyone of any age can recognize its opening theme after listening to the first few. grades. In 2006, a variety show on TV Tokyo introduced Suzuki and his father to its audience as the “Hoshis of the Heisei era.”
Suzuki, then a fifth grader, was shown performing a soft pitch.
If Suzuki’s foundation was established through traditional Japanese training methods that emphasize repetition, his evolution into becoming the most well-rounded player in Nippon Professional Baseball is something he attributes to more modern methods including weight training.
In both the Japanese national team and Hiroshima Carp, Seiya Suzuki wears the same No. 51 that was popularized by Ichiro Suzuki, but does not share the beliefs of his childhood hero, who once argued against weight training saying: “You can”. upset the balance you were born with. Tigers and lions don’t lift weights.
Seiya Suzuki has sculpted his nearly 6-foot frame into a solid 215-pound muscle pack.
“There are more players from Japan going to the majors, so we hear about these things,” Suzuki said in Japanese. “So our practice times are shorter and we focus more on physical training.”
The 26-year-old is open to his dreams of one day becoming a player who brings home the latest trends in the big leagues.
“Of course,” Suzuki said. “I think everyone feels like they want to play at the highest level if they can get the chance.”
“He’s been the best player in Japan in recent years,” said a major league scout, who compared Suzuki to current Dodgers outfielder AJ Pollock when Pollock was an All-Star with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Suzuki won a batting title two years ago when he hit .335. He has hit 25 home runs or more in each of the past five years. He has stolen up to 25 bases in one season. He has won four Gold Gloves. And he can pitch, his fastball hitting 92 mph when he pitched in high school.
“He’s a five-tool guy,” said the same scout.
Which is why it made sense when Suzuki revealed that the major league player he admires the most is Mike Trout.
Suzuki will be eligible for international free agency after the 2023 season, according to another major league scout, who is familiar with the details of his service time. But Suzuki is expected to move to the US before that, because the small market Carp could make several million dollars by making it available through the publishing system.
Suzuki laughed when asked if he could move on to the majors after this season.
“I wonder,” he said.
Tokyo Olympics coverage
Looking at a nearby Japanese reporter, Suzuki asked, “May I?”
The reporter also laughed.
“A Japanese reporter couldn’t ask such a direct question,” the reporter said.
Suzuki laughed again.
He remained in good spirits, laughing once again when asked if watching Shohei Ohtani sweep major league pitchers has given him the confidence to do well when he moves overseas.
“Not at all,” he said. “I am the same age as Shohei. I think it’s amazing. He is the first person my age who surprised me.
Suzuki has done a lot for himself, even if he hasn’t traveled to the other side of the world like Ohtani has. In the 25 or so miles between Arakawa and Yokohama Stadium, he went from neighborhood curiosity to national hero. And in the relatively near future, the boy who was once called the future star of the Giants could become the star of a major league franchise.