The Chunichi Dragons held a retirement ceremony for Takeshi Yamasaki after tonight's game against the Yokohama Bay Stars at Nagoya Dome.
His retirement speech, as posted by Nikkan Sports:
First, I want to thank the Chunichi Dragons organization, Morimichi Takagi, and my teammates for giving me these ceremony.
My last day as a professional baseball player has finally arrived. Before the start of today's game, I felt I could still keep playing. But having the opportunity to play a full game today, I can honestly say that I am exhausted. I feel I gained closure by playing today. I am now ok with retiring. Thank you.
I joined the Chunichi Dragons when I was eighteen. For nine years I toiled at the bottom. Things started to turn around a little in my tenth year. But it was a rocky time. I played for three organizations and was let go twice. A lot of things have happened, but I feel it was your cheering that allowed me to make it here today. Thank you.
Two major events happened during my career. The first was returning to the Dragons after ten years and being able to continue my career here.
The other was the Tohoku earthquake that took place two and a half years ago. I was with the Rakuten Eagles at the time. Survivors of the disaster taught me about living and never giving up. I would like to take this moment to thank the people of Tohoku. Thank you.
And the Dragons unfortunately finished without a spot in the playoffs for the first time in twelve years. We let the fans down and I feel really bad about that. But I think my teammates here, they will practice hard during the fall and figure out what went wrong this year. They will return strong. Please look forward to that.
To the Dragons' players, please play for as long as you can. Masahiro Yamamoto is a teammate on the Dragons. I did not want to lose out to him, but I did. I hope all my younger teammates will look to him as someone they should strive to become and ultimately surpass. I am cheering for you.
Finally, I want to thank my parents for giving me this strong body that allowed me to play for twenty-seven years without any major injuries. To my family and to those that have been a part of my life, thank very much. The next stage of my life begins tomorrow. I would like to do what I can to help give back to the Dragons and to pro baseball.
Thank you for today.
Source: Nikkan Sports 10/5/2013
A few other notes:
- Yamasaki's eldest son, Daiki, threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
- Yamasaki got the start at first and batted fourth.
- He went 1-for-5: F7, 1B8, F7, F9, Ks.
- He was tossed into the air seven times.