The player who apologized for the negative comments about being the ‘worst first rounder of all time’ stands tall as the 4th hitter on the winning team, “I still feel sad at that time…”

The glorious moment of being selected in the first round. The draft scene was in an uproar. Everyone was surprised by the unexpected nomination. The player who was nominated was criticized and ridiculed even though he had done nothing wrong. The player was right-handed infielder Yusuke Oyama (29), who was selected in the first round by the Hanshin Tigers in the Japanese professional baseball rookie draft in October 2016. 토토사이트

At the time, Oyama was attracting attention as a slugger third baseman, but he was not a first-round candidate. Initially, pitcher prospect Chihaya Sasaki (Chiba Lotte Marines) was likely to be nominated, but Hanshin suddenly switched to Oyama, causing controversy. Although it was explained that the nomination was made in consideration of the team’s situation in need of a heavy hitter, it did not easily calm Hanshin’s angry fans. 

However, Oyama has grown into a central hitter since 2018 and established himself as a starter, and has been recording double-digit home runs for six consecutive years until this year. He hit over 20 home runs for three consecutive years: 28 in 2020, 21 in 2021, and 23 in 2022. 118 home runs in 7 seasons. 

This season, he has played as the number 4 hitter in all 129 games for Hanshin, and is playing an active role with a batting average of .284 (132 hits in 464 at-bats), 14 home runs, 68 RBIs, and an OPS of .831. Although his home runs have decreased somewhat, he has drawn a league-high 89 walks and has a personal best and second-best on-base percentage in the league (.398). It will not be long before Hanshin achieves the record of being the 4th hitter in all games for the first time in 38 years, following Masayuki Kakefu, the leading player in the 1985 championship, when Hanshin last won the Japan Series.

On the 14th, the day Hanshin confirmed its Central League championship for the first time in 18 years, the fourth hitter was Oyama. The moment he overcame the pain of being nominated seven years ago and stood tall as the fourth hitter on the winning team, Oyama shed tears of emotion. On the 15th, Japan’s ‘Nikkan Sports’ published an exclusive memoir of Oyama, who won a thrilling victory, vividly conveying his feelings leading up to his first win since becoming a professional. 

Oyama said, “It’s been a baseball life where I didn’t know the peak until now. Although he never won a championship from elementary, middle, and high school to college, his desire to win was second to none. I am really happy that this is our first win as a team. I was able to persevere because coach Akinobu Okada made me aware of the importance of walks. Coach Okada fixed me as the 4th hitter and first baseman, and I played with more pressure and tension than in previous years,” he said. “Even while I was leading the team, I was having a hard time in my heart every day. Even in the winning games, there were many close developments. “When his mind and body were exhausted, he rewatched the draft video from seven years ago and gathered his strength,” he wrote. 

Oyama, who did not forget the pain of criticism when he was nominated seven years ago, said, “I can only reveal it now, but my professional baseball life began with an ‘apology.’ When he received the first pick from Hanshin in the fall of 2016, the reaction of the audience at the draft was a scream of ‘Eh!?’ This was the moment when my dream of becoming a professional baseball player came true, and it was truly shocking. I also hurt my parents and family. I blamed myself for not having enough power or being famous. One magazine even wrote that Hanshin’s draft score was 50 and that it was the ‘worst of all time.’ I asked my acquaintances for the contact information of my contemporaries and apologized, saying, ‘I’m sorry you heard these words because of me.’ “I still can’t forget the sadness of that time,” he recalled. 

To overcome the bad reputation, I trained myself to be stronger. Oyama said, “I hope players who haven’t played a single game in the pros don’t think like me. I tried to overturn the evaluation to prevent such an ‘incident’ from happening again. The motivation that other players lacked supported me this season. Now, there are more fans cheering me on while holding red towels with my name written on them. “It was great to be able to win for the people who supported me,” he said with great emotion. 

He continued, “I am grateful not only to Coach Okada (immediately reduced to full strength), but also to Coach Tomoaki Kanemoto who thought about my future by telling me to ‘get in shape for half a year’ in my first year despite being a college graduate, and Coach Akihiro Yano who continued to use me as number 4 even though I had no track record. “I have nothing but my heart,” said Oyama, who is also courteous to his former coaches. “I am attending all games this season, and I learned about supplements and diet from Hanshin seniors Takashi Toritani and Keisuke Kano, and introduced weight training and sprinting into my daily routine. It might be thanks to you. But the season is not over yet, and the Climax Series and Japan Series remain. “I will continue to pour my whole body and mind just to win,” he pledged.