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Hanshin Tigers: Tomoaki Kanemoto’s retirement speech and more

by on Oct.09, 2012 @ 11:24 pm, under NPB

Nikkan Sports is carrying Tomoaki Kanemoto's retirement speech:

First, I would like to express appreciation to both my parents, the amateur leagues, Hiroshima, Hanshin, and to all people that help support my baseball career.  I started playing baseball at ten and chased after the dream to become a  professional player.  After joining Hanshin in 2003, I was fortunate enough to be a part of two pennant winning teams.  Koshien Stadium helped bring out the best in me.

After hurting my shoulder three years ago, I started thinking about retirement.  But I pushed through rehab after hearing fans say they wanted to see another one of my home runs, another one of my bullet line drives.  To see me bat .300 and hit thirty home runs again.

I decided to remove the uniform today.  I will be honest, I feel as if I am leaving behind a lot of unfinished business.  We did win two pennants [while I was here] but we never won a Nippon Series.  I will pass that dream on to the younger players.

Lastly, I will no longer be able to stand in the left-handed batter's box at Koshien and swing the bat full force.  I will never get to run the bases at full speed.  I will never get to chase after the ball in left.  This really makes me sad.

I saw signs that said, "Aniki, thank you for the dream" [while playing in left].  That is something I actually want to say to you fans.  Hanshin fans are very kind, they even pushed for a player like me.

Finally...  Thank you very much.  To yakyu the sport, to the yakyu God, thank you.

Yokohama players Daisuke Miura and Tatsuhiko Kinjo, Hanshin players Kentaro Sekimoto, Kyuji Fujikawa, and Takashi Toritani, and Kazuhiro Kiyohara presented Kanemoto with flowers.  He then took a walk around the stadium field to bid fans farewell.

Source: Nikkan Sports 10/9/2012

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After receiving the flowers and before walking around the stadium field, Kanemoto placed the flowers on the ground and approached the Hanshin dugout, where he started shaking hands with all his teammates.  When he came to Takahiro Arai, he slapped him in the face.  The players then gathered around and tossed Kanemoto up into the air six times.  Source: Sanspo 10/9/2012

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When Kanemoto tried to give Randy Messenger the game-winning ball because it was his tenth victory of the season, he declined and deferred it back to the veteran.  Source: Nikkan Sports 10/9/2012

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Sports Hochi is carrying the interview with Kanemoto:

This was your last game.

I wanted to hit a home run.  I hit one out to center on my last swing during batting practice for the first time since getting hurt.  I could not turn on all the power, the bad part of me came out.

You made an easy out in the 7th inning with runners in scoring position.

There was moving past [Shigeo] Nagashima [on the All-time list] with two RBIs, but it was a fierce battle where I could not even think about that.  I am taking the uniform off because I popped out there.  It is the right decision.

How have things been since injurying the right shoulder?

Things did not go as I had hoped.  There were times I even hated baseball.  But, perhaps I inspired hope by trying to make it back to the field despite having an injury that would not allow it.  I think it was good that I made the attempt.

Any memories about Koshien Stadium?

The walk-off home run during the Nippon Series.  I remember that [Senichi] Hoshino was so happy, almost as if he hit it himself.

What next?

I will relax while making appearances on TV here and there.  I have not really thought about my future dreams.

What about coaching in the Hanshin organization?

This is a tough place.  You need to have a lot of perseverance to make it here.

Source: Sports Hochi 10/9/2012

====== UPDATE @ 11:44pm

Kanemoto also had a little something to say to the Yokohama Bay Stars after the game:

To the DeNA Bay Stars, thank you for taking part in my retirement ceremony. ... This year, they brought in new manager [Kiyoshi] Nakahata and the team suddenly changed and was continually in the spotlight.  However, it was the manager that stuck out the most.  To the players, if the manager sticks out more than the players, then something is wrong. ... I think Nakahata is hoping that the players will outshine the manager.  If the Bay Stars become a competitive team next year, I think they can become the most talked about team in Japan."

Source: Daily Sports 10/9/2012

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About a thousand fans gathered outside Koshien Stadium after the retirement ceremony and sang out cheer songs.  Source: Daily Sports 10/9/2012

====== UPDATE 10/10 @ 1:18am

Nikkan Sports has posted a longer version of the interview, but it is a bit long so I am going to skip it.  If you are interested in the link: Nikkan Sports 10/9/2012

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