In Nippon Professional Baseball, the number 18 symbolizes an ace. Top pitchers such as “Super Ace” Yoshinobu Yamamoto (25) of the Orix Buffaloes, Tomoyuki Sugano (34) of the Yomiuri Giants, and Masahiro Tanaka (35) of the Rakuten Eagles have worn the number 18 on their jerseys.
Yamamoto also wore No. 18 for Team Japan at the World Baseball Classic (WBC) in March. At the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the senior Tanaka wore No. 18 and Yamamoto wore No. 17. Darvish Yu (37-San Diego) wore No. 18 for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.굿모닝토토 도메인
Daisuke Matsuzaka, the original “monster pitcher” of the Seibu Lions, also wore the number 18, and Hiroki Kuroda wore the number 18 for the Hiroshima Carp, Los Angeles Dodgers, and New York Yankees.
Here’s a list of 18 hilarious satirical skits from Kabuki, the traditional Japanese theater, where the number “18” refers to a person of great talent. Legendary Yomiuri pitcher Eiji Sawamura wore the number 18, and over the years, the number 18 has come to symbolize an ace as the best pitcher on each team wears it.
It’s a number that most pitchers aspire to, if not immediately, then at some point in their careers.
However, a rookie pitcher for the Junichi Dragons is hoping to get the number 96. This is right-hander Ryoma Kato, 24, the sixth overall pick in the 2023 draft.
Appearing on a TV program on Wednesday, Kato said that he would like to see Cy Young Award winner Trevor Bauer pitch for the Yokohama BayStars this year.
He said he wanted to wear the number 96. The reason is clear. Bauer made a strong impression on him. “I liked how he clearly expressed his feelings,” Kato said.
“I decided to wear the number 96 because I want to throw 96 miles (about 154 kilometers) consistently,” Bauer said at a press conference in Yokohama in late March.
Bauer made his first start on May 3 against the Hiroshima Carp, allowing one run on seven hits with nine strikeouts in seven innings. It was a bumpy ride, but he established himself as an excellent pitcher. He went 10-4 with a 2.76 ERA in 19 games until he injured his side trying to make a diving catch against the Hanshin Tigers on Aug. 30.
Bauer decided to go to Japan when he was unable to play in the major leagues due to personal issues, including sexual assault allegations. Despite only pitching for the first team for four months, he made a strong impression. He was passionate about baseball and competing. He pitched his heart out in every game.
Unlike Japanese pitchers, who pitch on a weekly basis in a six-man starting rotation, he stuck to a five-day rotation in the major leagues. There were times when he would get angry at his teammates’ defensive mistakes. That’s why Kato says he was “drawn to Bauer.”
Kato came to Junichi through social baseball. He stands at 1.85-99 meters and throws a fastball up to 154 kilometers with an imposing physique. He is said to be a pitcher who puts his all into every pitch. He hopes to be a middle-of-the-rotation pitcher, not a starter. “I will aim for 165 kilometers,” he said.