Part of the reason this took so long was because I didn't know where to start. Should I start with his childhood, his high school and college days, his professional debut, his MLB debut, what? I decided to keep it simple for now and start with the present day (as of this post anyway).
As we all know Big Hirok decided to return to the Hiroshima Carp (the team where it all began for him) one last time before calling it a career. Turning down some pretty lucrative one year deals from the Yankees, Dodgers and Padres in the process.
Last week I saw this article in the Japanese newspaper (based in America/NY) the Daily Sun.
It basically states that Hiroki Kuroda has joined his former team for spring training over there and is immensely popular. Kuroda is (to date) the best pitcher born in Japan to come to the big leagues (suck it Nomo!) and he's pretty much the only player to go to the big leagues, actually succeed and come back to his old stomping grounds.
According to the article Kuroda's popularity is at the point where his merchandise seems to be flying off the shelves. Kuroda-related anything is selling for big bucks online and street vendors are finding it impossible to keep their Kuroda items in stock.
Now originally I was going to do a long expose on the events leading up to Hirok returning to his former team but I'm having a tough time gathering the right articles (which is to say that there's a lot of garbage being posted by the Japanese media that I'm having a tough time separating from stuff I can actually use). All I can really say is that Hirok must've decided that he only had enough fuel left in the tank for one more year and that he was going to use that for one last hurrah in his homeland. Also he's playing for basically one fourth of what the Padres/Dodgers/Yankees(?) offered him.
And just the other day Kuroda made his spring training debut with the Carp. He threw a scoreless 4.1 innings pitched with only 39 pitches. According to some folks over on that side of the ocean he's on a bit of a pitch limit this spring, but based on his first outing, it's still the Hirok we all know and love.
I'm not sure exactly how the rest of these Legend Of Big Hirok posts will go (or if I get to them at all), but his high school days and college days should make for some interesting posts.
As always thanks for stopping by and take care :).