Samurai Japan director Ibata discusses his relationship with LG Legends, mentioning Mr. Lee’s guitar skills and Kim Jae-hyun’s potential to work in Japan.
Japan’s national baseball team, Samurai Japan, announced on October 4 that it has appointed Hirokazu Ibata, 48, as the head coach of its top team.
Ibata, a former shortstop and second baseman for the Junichi Dragons, made his mark during the 2013 World Baseball Classic (WBC). His name may not be familiar to Korean baseball fans, as the tournament did not feature a game between Japan and Korea. However, for Korean baseball fans, Ibata is a recognized figure.
Ibata has many memories with Korean baseball players. Especially with the legends of the LG Twins.
Ibata made his professional debut in 1998, when Junichi had Lee Sang-hoon (now a commentator for MBC Sports Plus). Looking back on his playing days, Ibata said, “In the training camp, he was the pitcher next to me. I often heard him playing the guitar. He was good at baseball and good at playing the guitar,” Ibata recalled.
In 2007, outfielder Lee Byung-kyu (now coach of the Samsung Lions) joined Junichi. “He was a year older than me, but we became friends,” Ibata said.
Ibata says that there are some Korean players who make a deep impression on him even if they have never played on the same team. It’s Kim Jae-hyun, a left-handed hitter who played for LG and SK Wyverns (now SSG Landers).
Ibata said, “I saw him at the Okinawa camp and thought he was a good hitter. He holds the bat short and swings fast. He wasn’t a big guy (1.77 meters tall), but he had power. 먹튀검증 He could hit left and right at will, and his ‘click’ sound when the ball hit the bat was different from other players. I was a right-handed hitter, but his batting was a textbook example.” “Even if he had played in Japan, I think it would have worked,” Ibata said.
Ibata and Kim Jae-hyun coached side-by-side at the Premier 12 at the Tokyo Dome in November 2019, and they met and shook hands in training before the Korea-Japan game.
Among retired and active players over the age of 30, Ibata is remembered for his keystone combination with Masahiro Araki. In 2010, when he was in his second year as a professional, shortstop Oh Ji-hwan recalled learning from then-LG foreign pitcher Shinya Okamoto (formerly of Junichi), “Ibata, a defensive specialist, said to me when he was trying to catch a ground ball, ‘The bounds are always changing, so you have to concentrate until the ball is in your glove. ‘ He said, ‘The ball doesn’t go into the glove by itself. ‘ He said, ‘You should think like that, too. Oh said he still remembers the story.
Samurai Japan listed international experience, leadership, name recognition, and communication skills among its criteria for selecting a national team manager. Ibata has worked as a coach for the Yomiuri Giants, an unemployed coach, an interim coach for a Taiwanese professional team, and the head coach of the U-15 national team. He is optimized for a top-level national team head coach.
Ibata’s national team debut will be at the Asian Professional Baseball Championship (APBC) on November 16 at the Tokyo Dome. That tournament will mark the beginning of Ibata’s new relationship with Korea.