Tag: Hiroki Kokubo
Daily Sports has posted Hiroki Kokubo's retirement speech:
I am extremely grateful to the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks organization for putting together this retirement ceremony for me today. Thank you.
As a surprise, I heard more than 30,000 people sign Happy Birthday, something I will probably never hear again. It touched me deeply. Thank you.
I would like to take this time to thank all the managers and coaches that gave me advise, all the team staff that assisted me during my workouts, and especially to all the teammates I fought with to win championships over my nineteen-year career with the Daiei Hawks, Giants, and Softbank Hawks. Thank you.
Within that, my encounter with [Sadaharu] Oh. This was a turning point in my baseball career. He of course gave me advise on improving my skill, but he also taught me everything about what it means to be a pro. Those [things he taught me] are still coursing through my veins. Thank you chairman Oh.
I turned forty-one today. I hear I was born around 7am in the morning. My mother came to watch me play on July 14 and again today. With her own hands, she raised me and gave me this strong body. And she gave me the opportunity to play baseball. I am grateful. Thank you mother.
From the time I turned pro until today, I always demanded a lot [from myself]. Even if I put together a season that satisfied me, I felt there was always more, more that I could do. That is how I came to where I am. Last year I hit my 400th home run, this year my 2,000th hit. One by one my ideals became a reality. But inside of that, I felt ideals remain ideals and striving for that brings about growth. Upon putting this uniform on, I can no longer move toward the ideal player I want to become. For that reason, I decided this year, to graciously take the uniform off.
This is near the end now, but to the fans, nineteen years ago, I came to Fukuoka without any ties or connections. I am proud to have been able to play in front of such warm fans and I am fully of appreciation.
I got hurt a lot, but each time I came back and put the uniform on to stand on this field. It is because I had those strong feelings that I was able to overcome all those injuries.
While unfortunate that we could not win a third straight pennant, we still have a chance to play at this home field in front of everyone while wearing this uniform. A little while ago, the players also spoke about what they wanted to accomplish. Just like them, my goal will be to get through the Climax Series to create another opportunity to play in front of all of you one more time while wearing this uniform.
To all the fans, thank you very much for the last nineteen years.
Source: Daily Sports 10/8/2012
UPDATE 10/9 @ 8:25pm - Nikkan Sports posted his post-game interview:
How did you feel to make your speech after getting no-hit?
I was thinking about making an apology at the start. To have that happen in front of so many fans... I thought it best to feel embarrassed. Although I am retiring.
It was your birthday.
With over 30,000 people, it was a Guinness like Happy Birthday. It will become a good memory.
The fans got noisy during your third trip to the plate.
Normally, you get four trips. I thought I might get to bat with the bases loaded and two out, but we were no-hit...
What did [Sadaharu] Oh say to you?
That life is only half-done and that he wanted me to continue working hard for yakyu.
Do you have any special memories with Oh?
These are kind of big, like using me just because I was hitting or trying me at second when I never played that position before. I was very patient with me. Without him, I would not be able to talk about having a pro baseball career.
I did not think I would. Nobuhiko [Matsunaka] gave me [flowers] and I started remembering things.
What did you remember?
Back when I was weak, the times that were difficult. I have a lot more memories of the struggles and the pain. This includes last year's Nippon Series MVP. I remember more of the difficult times.
Source: Nikkan Sports 10/9/2012
The Pacific League held a board of directors meeting in Tokyo today. Among the issues they discussed:
- recognize Hirotoshi Masui (HAM) and Hiroki Kokubo (SOF) for the accomplishments -- give Masui commendation for setting a new rookie record with forty-four holds and give present Kokubo with an achievement award for his nineteen-year career.
- if Shinnosuke Abe (YOM) wins a triple crown, recognize the achievement with a special commendation, even though he plays in the Central League
Source: Nikkan Sports 10/1/2012
Hiroki Kokubo held a press conference after tonight's game against the Chiba Lotte Marines tonight and announced that this will be his last season.
UPDATE @ 11:52pm - Nikkan Sports has posted parts of his press conference.
Your reason for retiring.
There is no one thing. It was a slow progression. The ball was not flying quite as much during batting practice. I could not hit them over even during practice. I experienced those kinds of conflicts.
As of this moment, I can not think of anything I left unfinished over my career. But I do not want to regret not finishing in first place in the fall.
Did Koji Akiyama say anything to you?
He said I could still pinch-hit and even start. He said we should do our best until the very end.
Did you tell your teammates?
I told them after the game. Everyone was surprised and could not react. I told them I wanted to retire after finishing the season in first and getting tossed into the air.
Plans for the rest of the season?
I will give it everything I have and do my best to carry my weight with this team. I want to finish after burning myself completely out. I want to try and [help the team] finish in first for the third straight year.
UPDATE 8/15 @ 5:33pm - Sanspo also posted portions of the press conference.
Who did you report your retirement to?
I informed [Sadaharu] Oh, [Koji] Akiyama, and [Itaru] Kobayashi that I would be retiring after the current season.
When did you decide?
I can not really say. I was a slow progression. When I thought about playing next year, I was already emotionally moving toward retirement.
Is it because you were not starting in as many games?
No. I feel healthy. My stats have dropped this season. I have not been able to hit the ball very far during pre-game batting practice. During games, balls I thought could be home runs ended up getting caught in center. I made my living hitting the ball far so that played a part in the decision. I have no regrets.
What about your teammates?
I did not want to keep it from my teammates. I gathered everyone together after the game and told them. I think they were surprised.
What was Oh's reaction?
When talking to Oh, the tears would not stop. Oh told me about how he had to ultimately decide when to retire. Akiyama asked if I had any regrets. I have made this announcement to retire, but there are still games to play and I want to help the team, even as a pinch-hitter. I want to finish by burning myself completely out.
Hiroki Kokubo collected his 2,000th career hit off the first pitch he saw from Brian Wolfe (Nippon Ham) in the bottom of the 4th inning of today's game against the Nippon Ham Fighters.
- the forty-first player in NPB history to reach the milestone
- the third player to reach the milestone this season (behind Atsunori Inaba and Shinya Miyamoto)
- the tenth player out of college to reach the milestone
- the third oldest player to reach the milestone: Miyamoto was forty-one years and five months; Hiromitsu Ochiai was forty-one years and four months; and Kokubo is forty-years and eight months
- the fourteenth player to record 2,000 hits and have at least 400 homers
The Hawks have opened up a section on their website that commemorates Kokubo's 2,000 hit.
- Kokubo plans to give his mother his 2,000th hit baseball. Source: Sponichi 6/25/2012
- He reached the milestone thirty-three days after recording his 1,999th hit. Source: Sponichi 6/25/2012
- He received around 280 congratulatory e-mails. During a guest appearance on KBC Kyushu Asahi's News Pia, Kokubo said he was not thinking about retirement. Source: Nikkan Sports 6/25/2012
- He ordered about three hundred of his bats and will personalize each with a message and an autograph. He plans to give these out to various people that have helped him. Source: Sports Hochi 6/26/2012
- Wakayama Prefecture is planning to present Kokubo with some sort of award during the off-season. They may even opt to create a new award. Kokubo has already received the Prefecture's Sports Award in 2007. Source: Nikkan Sports 6/26/2012
Countdown to 2,000
|1||2||4/10/1994||Orix||Koji Noda||Green Stadium Kobe|
|1,000||1008||9/27/2002||Seibu||Mitsutaka Goto||Yahoo Dome|
|1,500||1480||9/15/2007||Nippon Ham||Shintaro Ejiri||Yahoo Dome|
|2,000||1997||6/24/2012||Nippon Ham||Brian Wolfe||Yahoo Dome|
Nobuhiko Matsunaka was taken off the active roster today with a left hand joint sprain (there was no damage to bones). Matsunaka was evaluated at a hospital on Sunday after he hurt his wrist while sliding into first on a ground out to short during a game against Yokohama on June 16. Source: Nikkan Sports 6/18/2012, Sponichi 6/18/2012
Hideki Okajima has not allowed a run in any of the twenty-four games he has appeared in so far this year.
Once Terry Doyle's work visa clears (likely later this month), the Hawks will have him pitch in a few games at Ni-gun. Source: Sponichi 6/18/2012
Hiroki Kokubo will likely be added to the active roster on June 26 if can play through an upcoming three-game series against the Ni-gun Hiroshima Carp (begins on June 22) without getting tired and needing rest. Source: Sports Hochi Osaka 6/18/2012
Tadashi Settsu was taken off the active roster today since he is not scheduled to pitch for at least ten days. The Hawks also want to give Settsu a chance to rest before his next start. Source: Sponichi 6/17/2012
Nobuhiko Matsunaka did not take part in pre-game practice and was held out of today's game because he hurt his left wrist when sliding head first into first during Saturday's game against Yokohama. Source: Sponichi 6/17/2012
Hiroki Kokubo worked out at Yahoo Dome today. He will begin taking live batting practice on Tuesday and will play in a Ni-gun game next weekend. If everything is ok, he might be able to return to the active roster as early as June 26.
Kokubo may also undergo another evaluation on Monday.
Source: Nikkan Sports 6/17/2012
Hiroki Kokubo was taken off the active roster today with lower back pains.
UPDATE @ 6:27pm - Kokubo got an MRI on his lower back today and was diagnosed with a slipped disc.
"I had a hard time deciding what to do, but I figured if I played, I probably wouldn't do very well. ... It hurts to even talk. This is the first time I have experienced a slipped disc so I am not really sure [how things will go]," said Kokubo.
Kokubo will rest for a few days and, if everything is ok, begin his rehab at the Saitozaki training facilities on May 29. The earliest he might be able to return to the active roster would be June 5.
Incidentally, this is apparently separate from the lower back pains he was experiencing earlier on.
"If there was no record, there is no way I played. Just one more hit. I can not just sit out. I forced myself into the line-up," said Kokubo. "The [painkillers] worked, through to the second at bat."
Kokubo did not take part in practices at Yahoo Dome today and instead got treatment on his lower back.
"[Kokubo's] not in good shape. He is playing as of now, but we are not certain," said Koji Akiyama.
"How I feel tomorrow will determine whether or not I play," said Kokubo. "If I am weak spiritually, I will not be able to play. I have to believe there will be a miracle."
Atsunori Inaba (Nippon Ham Fighters): 1,999 hits, needs one more
Inaba has a chance to become the first player in NPB history to record his 2,000th hit and 250th home run in one swing. Three players have hit homers for their 2,000th hit (Makoto Matsubara in 1980, Hideji Kato in 1987, and Hiromitsu Ochiai in 1995), but none were also significant home run milestones.
And according to Sponichi, of the thirty-eight players that reached 2,000 hits in the past, thirty-two players ended games with 1,999 hits. Of those, twenty-four recorded their 2,000th hit during the next game they played.
Assuming Inaba reaches the milestone, the Fighters will hold a 2,000 Hit Ceremony for Inaba on May 23 (vs Yokohama at Sapporo Dome).
Meikyukai Jacket presenter: undecided
Shinya Miyamoto (Yakult Swallows): 1,993 hits, needs seven more
Shinya Miyamoto Countdown Boards (2,000 yen) will hit stadium store shelves on May 1.
The Swallows are guessing (hoping) Miyamoto will reach 2,000 hits during the team's three game series against Hiroshima Carp between May 4 and 6 (at Jingu). The team might even have him sit out some road games depending on how well he hits.
The team is thinking about holding a 2,000 Hit Ceremony for both Miyamoto and former Swallow Atsunori Inaba when the Nippon Ham Fighters play two games at Jingu later next month (May 30-31). That is, of course, assuming that both players have reached the milestone by then.
The Musashi Koyama Palm shopping area in Shinagawa is also prepared -- they plan to put up a banner and 130 flags the moment he reaches the milestone. They also plan to hold ceremony with Miyamoto as their guest. The shopping area has set aside a total budget of 1M yen to celebrate Miyamoto's milestone.
* Junji Ogawa was the scout in charge of both Miyamoto and Inaba.
Meikyukai Jacket presenter: at the request of Miyamoto, Tsutomu Wakamatsu
Hiroki Kokubo (Softbank Hawks): 1,979 hits, needs twenty-one more
Meikyukai Jacket presenter: will likely be Sadaharu Oh
Wily Mo Pena will be donating 25,000 yen to relief efforts in northern Japan for every home run he hits this season. And even if he does not reach forty, he will still donate at least 1M yen.
Pitching coach Ikuo Takayama told reporters on Monday that they might change their starting rotation once everyone in the current rotation gets at least one start.
Starters like Kazuyuki Hoashi and Kenji Otonari are waiting for the chances at Ni-gun.
Hiroki Kokubo visited Masao Fujii's grave on Monday and paid his respects.
The Hawks plan to put part of the money they save (about 2.5B yen yearly) after purchasing Yahoo Dome toward improving the team.