Dae-ho, Dae-ho, Dae-ho” Joseon’s No. 4 hitter, Shiguro, receives thunderous applause…SB ‘Legend’ Daewoo

The SoftBank Hawks welcomed Korea’s No. 4 hitter, Lee Dae-ho, to the ceremonial pitch, where he struck out and the SoftBank fans applauded.

Lee delivered the ceremonial pitch before the Nippon Professional Baseball 2023 game between the SoftBank Hawks and the Chiba Lotte Marines at the PayPay Dome in Fukuoka, Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan on March 28.

SoftBank invited Lee to celebrate the club’s 85th anniversary and the 30th anniversary of the PayPay Dome. Lee joined SoftBank after the 2013 season from the Orix Buffaloes, where he played for two seasons. In his first year with SoftBank, Lee hit .300 with 170 hits, 19 home runs and a .300 batting average in 144 games, and in his second year, he hit .282 with 31 home runs and 98 RBIs in 141 games. In 2015, Lee had a breakout season in the Japan Series, going 16-for-18 with two home runs and eight RBIs in five games, becoming the first Korean player to win the Japan Series MVP title.

At the invitation of SoftBank, Lee visited Fukuoka for the first time in eight years. After arriving in Fukuoka on the 26th, Lee watched the 메이저놀이터 SoftBank-Chiba Lotte game from the stands on the 27th, and before the game, he spoke with “hitting masters” Yuki Yanagita, Akira Nakamura, Yuito Mori, Takuya Kai, former manager Koji Akiyama, and first team hitting coach Yuya Hasegawa. He also met with SoftBank Chairman Sadaharu Oh on the 28th.

SoftBank made Lee’s visit a “hospitable” one. SoftBank created a special video using Lee’s theme song from his KBO days, “Ducks Fly,” and even included a chant of “Dae-ho” before Lee stepped up to the plate to welcome him to PayPayDotcom. The fans who filled the PayPay Dome applauded enthusiastically as Lee took the field.

Akira Nakamura, who made his debut in 2011 and has 1,293 hits, 478 RBIs, 564 runs, 0.280 OPS, and 0.734 batting average in 1,320 career games, and Yuki Yanagita, the “signature hitter” of Nippon Professional Baseball and SoftBank, who is also known as Lee Jung-hoo’s “role model,” took the field.

After a short interview with the Japanese fans on the field, Lee Dae-ho took the mound and showed off the skills that made him famous as a pitcher in high school. He threw a strike, and the fans responded with thunderous applause. Afterward, Lee took a photo with Nakamura and Yanagita before wrapping things up.

“I’m so grateful to be invited to such a great event, and I’m glad I got to throw out the ceremonial first pitch,” Lee said afterward, adding, “I only remember having so much fun at SoftBank for two years. In the first year, it was a bit difficult until the end, but we won both times. I learned a lot about baseball during those two years, thanks to the good players and the front office. I saw players I was with when I was younger, such as Kai (Takuya), Yanagita (Yuki), and Nakamura (Akira), as seniors, and it was great to see them leading the team so well,” he smiled.

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