The Seibu Lions announced today that both Hiroshi Hirao (36) and Tomoaki Sato (34) will be retiring at the end of the end of the season.
My biggest reason [for deciding to retire] was because I felt I could no longer help the team.
I was taken off the active roster because of an injury near the end of June and my legs and shoulder were not in good shape. I could not hit.
I played for Hanshin and Seibu over nineteen years. I put up ordinary numbers and I was not a very good player. I am grateful that they allowed me an opportunity to play.
I treasure the moments I shared with the team staff, my teammates, and the supportive fans over my nineteen year career.
I did not get many chances to play, but the strong cheers from the fans resounded strongly in my heart. I am grateful for the great times I had. Thank you very much!!
The moment I started accepting the reality that I was not on the active roster during the cruel summer months, was them moment I started to think about retirement.
I honestly did not think I would have such a hard time seeing the ball during my last at bat [because of the tears].
I think I managed to make it through twelve years because of my desire to win. I still cannot forget the fans that cheered for me when I came back from an injury in September 2005 and took the field for fielding practice. That was the happiest moment.
From there, I started working harder for the team, for the fans. I was willing to put myself on the line if it mean winning a game. I wanted to make people happy.
I think I worked harder than anyone else in trying to cover as much of the outfield as possible. Thank you very much for my twelve years!!
Source: official announcement
Sato played in his last game today: Ni-gun vs Lotte, started in right and batted fourth, drove in two runs during his second at bat and struck out swinging in his third at bat. Source: Nikkan Sports 10/1/2012