Lee Dae-ho watched the Nippon Professional Baseball 2023 game between the SoftBank Hawks and the Chiba Lotte Marines at the Fukuoka PayPay Dome in Fukuoka, Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan on July 27. The Hawks won the game 6-5 on a come-from-behind hit in the 12th inning of extra innings.
Dae-ho Lee made a huge impact during his time with SoftBank in 2014 and 2015. In 2014, Lee hit .300 with 19 home runs, 68 RBIs, 60 runs scored and a .816 OPS in 144 games, helping SoftBank win the Japan Series. The 2015 season was arguably Lee’s year.
In 141 regular-season games, Lee hit .282 with 31 home runs, 98 RBIs, 68 runs scored and a .892 OPS. In the Japan Series against the Yakult Swallows, he replaced Seichi Uchikawa, who suffered a broken rib, in the No. 4 spot in the lineup and put on a “one-man show” with 16 hits, eight RBIs and two home runs in five games. His eight RBIs, tied for the most in the series, earned him the title of Japan Series MVP, the first Korean player to win the title.
After the 2015 season, Lee signed a contract with the Seattle Mariners of Major League Baseball and no longer played for SoftBank. But SoftBank hasn’t forgotten about him, and invited him to join the team for the 85th anniversary of the club’s founding and the 30th anniversary of the PayPay Dome’s opening. Lee will throw out the ceremonial first pitch before SoftBank and Chiba Rodeo meet on April 28.
Prior to the ceremonial pitch, Lee visited Fukuoka to reunite with his former teammates on the 27th. The news of Lee’s visit to the PayPay Dome brought out all of SoftBank’s “superstars. Yuito Mori, who has a career record of 24-24, 105 wins, 127 saves, former manager Koji Akiyama, who was the manager in Lee’s first season with SoftBank, and former 메이저사이트first-team hitting coach Yuya Hasegawa, who played with Lee.
Among the many personalities, Yuki Yanagita, nicknamed “the batting master,” was the one who welcomed Lee the most. Yanagita has played in 1296 career games with 1425 hits, 246 home runs, 159 doubles, and a batting average of 0.315, and has represented Japan several times. He is especially known for being a role model for Lee Jung-hoo (Kiwoom Heroes).
Yanagita also revealed his paternity by leaving a video message at the All-Star Game last year, when Lee’s retirement tour began in earnest. When Lee Dae-ho took the field before the game, Yanagita rushed to greet the “No. 4 hitter of Korea” with a 90-degree bow. Lee Dae-ho also showed his happiness by grasping Yanagita’s hand.
It had been a long time since Lee and Yanagita had met, but there was no awkwardness at all. When Dae-ho took off his hat and saw Yanagita’s long hair, he joked, “What’s wrong with your hairstyle?” Yanagita replied, “Korean style!” and smiled. After exchanging pleasantries with Lee, Yanagita moved her stretching area over to Lee’s side and continued to joke around with him as she warmed up.
Lee Dae-ho’s support must have given him a boost. Yanagita started in right field, batting fourth, and hit a single to left field in his first at-bat and a double to right field in his second before coming home on a single by Hikaru Kawase. He did not produce a hit in his third at-bat of the fifth inning, but reached base on a grounder to second before coming home on Taisei Makihara’s home run.
Yanagita did not produce another hit, but in the bottom of the 12th inning of extra innings, tied 5-5, he hit a game-winning single off Yusuke Azuma with runners on first and third to give SoftBank the lead for good. Yanagita, full of energy from Lee Dae-ho, was flying high.