Former Chunichi Shinji Imanaka is right-handed…he received a left-handed glove and switched to left-handed pitching.
“I don’t think there will be another pitcher like this in the future.” When he retired in 2001, fighting general Senichi Hoshino said so. Although he has a slender body, he swings his arms supplely, and with the same form, he can perform straights of nearly 150 km, curves of around 100 km, and even super slow curves of around 80 km. Shinji Imanaka (baseball commentator) played an active role as Chunichi’s ace, toying with batters with his slow and slow pitches that ranged from an astonishing 60km/h. The baseball career of the “unparalleled” left-handed baseball player began with an “encounter” with a left-handed glove.
Mr. Imanaka, a native of Kadoma City, Osaka Prefecture, joined the local youth baseball team when he was in the third grade of elementary school. He was already a left-handed pitcher at that time, but he had been a right-handed pitcher throughout his playing days. He also had a right-handed glove, which he used. “Because I’m right-handed. I write and hold chopsticks on my right. Of course, I still do. I use my right for everything except baseball.” The reason he became a left-handed pitcher was because his older brother, who is three years older than him, started playing youth baseball.
“My brother said, “I don’t have a glove,” so I took mine, even though it was a worn-out one.Then, an old lady next door told me, “I have a glove.”That’s when I got it. It was a left-handed glove.” There was nothing wrong with his left-handed pitching. “I used to throw dodgeball either to the right or to the left, so I started throwing left-handed.I also remember hitting the wall with my left.” This too was probably fate. If he hadn’t picked up a left-handed glove, he would have remained a right-handed pitcher.
“I didn’t join youth baseball just because I wanted to.My older brother was playing, so the team members told me, “You should come too.”I was a left-handed pitcher, so I was immediately made to pitch, and for three years By then, I was already playing in games with my older brother.I wasn’t a regular player for only six years, but I played as a pitcher and in the outfield here and there.” I don’t know what would have happened if his older brother hadn’t joined youth baseball. If he were a right-handed pitcher…
In 1983, he joined Kadoma Senior in junior high school. “At first, I joined a different school, but then it was decided that I would start one in Kadoma, so I started in the middle of my first year of junior high school.But, we didn’t have a practice field, and when I was there, there wasn’t a place I could rent. Softball is fine, but hardball is not.There is a field on the riverbed where you can only play softball, but we couldn’t practice in a regular manner, like doing whatever we wanted and stopping when the patrolling guy came.” I looked back with a wry smile.
He has no record of such a track record. “I didn’t practice properly, and I was weak. I was a pitcher, but I kept losing by calls. I think I won one tournament after my third year (1985). There were tournaments with teams from different prefectures. I think we lost to the Nagoya team in the end. At that time, a dead ball almost caused a scuffle. A hot-blooded guy got hit and got angry…” At that time, he never thought he would become a professional baseball player.
“Is that okay?” I was unmotivated to pass the selection test.
“I didn’t think about it at all. I wasn’t interested in professional baseball. I didn’t really watch baseball broadcasts. Even when I did, I watched Hanshin games on Sun TV. Back then, we played Giants games almost every day, but that was completely unrealistic. I didn’t watch it. I hated the Giants. When the Giants game was played, I couldn’t watch the TV program I wanted to watch. My dad would watch it. I was hoping it would be canceled due to rain.”
For high school, I wanted to go to Kadoma Nishi, a local public high school. “Baseball was also very strong. They were playing in the fourth or fifth round of the Osaka tournament. So we all said let’s go.” But that didn’t happen. The destination for higher education was the Daito Campus (currently Osaka Toin). “I had no intention of going, but my parents made me go to San Francisco University’s selection.”
It was said that the invitation came from someone at the Settsu Senior Office. “Settsu Senior was the team that had Shinya Miyamoto (formerly Yakult), and we (Kadoma Senior) often played practice games and always lost, but the person at the office and my parents were good friends. There was a player who was going to Sandai, and my father and the coach asked if I would like to go to Sandai’s selection, so I ended up going.”
A casual selection. “I was doing it pretty well.I was throwing long distance throws and only throwing about 80 meters.Everyone else was throwing 120 or so.I was asked, “Are you okay with that?” and I said, “Okay. , this is it.” That’s how we did it.” During lunch, when Daisan Daitsuke and director Yasushi Yamamoto asked him, “Are you planning on coming to my house?”, he obediently answered “No.” “People around me said, ‘Hey!'” The result was a surprising success.
Manager Yamamoto is the eldest son of Hitoshi Tsuruoka, who was a famous Nankai manager. Before joining Daisan University, he was the manager of PL Gakuen, and in the summer of 1978, he was the manager of PL Gakuen, which was the first national team to play at Koshien, with pitcher Shinji Nishida (then Shinji) (formerly Hiroshima) and catcher Katsuhiko Kido (formerly Hanshin). Conquer. It was called the “PL of reversal”. “The manager liked left-handed pitchers, like (former PL ace) Nishida-san and Nishikawa (Yoshiaki, former Nankai, Hanshin)…I felt like he joined me because I was a left-handed pitcher too.” says Mr. Imanaka. Then, if this is also right…
Mr. Imanaka turned professional after being selected No. 1 by Chunichi in the 1988 draft, but at that time, of course, he was not in a situation where he could have imagined such a thing. Even though I’m right-handed, I was given a left-handed glove and became a left-handed pitcher, and I can say that it had a big impact on my baseball life in many ways. This is how the rare southpaw entered Daisan University. From here, he will continue to train and grow.