Unconventional Coaching: The Secrets Behind Seibu’s Sosuke Genda and Hiroshima’s Norihito Morishita Success

[Book Review]The coaching techniques that developed Seibu’s Sosuke Genda and Hiroshima’s Norihito Morishita

2024.5.27 (Mon) Nozomi Higashino Follow Following Share 1 What is the difference between the coaches who produce professional baseball players one after another? (Photo: David Lee/Shutterstock.com)

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Getting drafted and going pro… Many high school baseball players have this dream, but the reality is that for most, it remains just a dream. However, there is a man who has sent eight of his students to professional baseball in the last nine years. His name is Masao Watanabe, who has coached the baseball team at Oita Commercial High School for many years and is currently enrolled at Saiki Kakujo High School. “Watanabe Masao: The Extraordinary Manager Who Continues to Produce Professionals” (by Keisuke Kaku, Takeshobo) is a book written by sports writer Keisuke Kaku, who has interviewed many baseball players, both professional and amateur, including those at the Koshien Tournament and the Japanese WBC team, in which he delves into the coaching methods of the extraordinary manager, Coach Watanabe.

>>[Photo]Sosuke Genda, a student of Coach Watanabe, demonstrated a “back catch” during the 2023 WBC semi-final against Mexico.

(Nozomi Higashino: Freelance writer)

The director known as the “Alien”

The players that Coach Watanabe has sent to the professional league include eight, including Shunsuke Kasatani, who was drafted fourth overall by the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks in 2014, and Yudai Furukawa, who was drafted second overall by the Saitama Seibu Lions in 2022.

Among them are Norihito Morishita (Hiroshima) and Sosuke Genda (Seibu), who were named Rookie of the Year in their first year as professionals and went on to win gold medals at the Tokyo Olympics as members of Samurai Japan.

Morishita also took the mound in the final match of the Tokyo Olympics (Photo: Kyodo News)

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Oita Commercial High School and Saiki Kakujo High School, where Coach Watanabe has coached, are both public high schools. Unlike top private high schools in baseball, they do not gather promising players from all over the country. What kind of person is Coach Watanabe, who has achieved such a great track record despite this? The opening sentence of this article succinctly expresses this.

People around him call him an “alien,” and it’s amusing to see how he accepts the title with glee, as if it were an award.

The book introduces many of the unique coaching methods used by Director Watanabe, who is known by many as an “alien.”

What do they have in common with “BIG BOSS”?

When talking about “aliens” in the baseball world, many people would think of Tsuyoshi Shinjo, the current manager of the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters. Watanabe also seems to have found some commonalities between himself and Shinjo. He says the following in this book:

First of all, I think it’s about not being bound by common sense. I’m also more of a Shinjo-san type of person. I’m always thinking about what would be interesting if I did it this way. The difference is whether or not I put my ideas into practice.

When he was first appointed to Oita Commercial High School, Watanabe was looked down upon as, “How much can a coach with a softball background do?” However, he managed to win the prefectural spring tournament by using the ace pitcher as the leadoff hitter.

But this is no coincidence.

This was the result of the excellent management of the coach, who had seen the performance of the ace pitcher in a practice game and had recognized his talent as a batter. Because he was a player of softball, he was looked down upon by those around him, and a storm of booing ensued, with people saying, “It’s impossible for an ace pitcher to be the leadoff hitter.” The fact that he was able to achieve results that blew away all that was the result of the coach’s “unconventional” imagination and ability to put things into practice.

2024-05-26 21:02:03
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