Masataka Yoshida, a professional baseball player from Japan, became a national icon after crushing a historic home run in the 2017 World Baseball Classic quarterfinals against the United States. His spectacular performance sparked a massive social media frenzy, with fans calling him the “Japanese Babe Ruth.” In this article, we’ll explore Yoshida’s incredible feat and the impact it had on Japan’s sporting culture.
Masataka Yoshida’s Iconic World Baseball Classic Home Run
The World Baseball Classic (WBC) is one of the most awaited tournaments in the world of baseball, where national teams compete against each other in a highly competitive format. In the 2017 edition of the WBC, Masataka Yoshida, a then 23-year-old Japanese outfielder, made a mark in the tournament with his iconic home run.
The Buildup to the Home Run
Japan was playing in the quarterfinals against Cuba, a team that had won three of the previous four WBC tournaments. The game was tied 0-0 in the bottom of the seventh inning, with both teams having some excellent pitching and defensive play. Yoshida had been struggling in the tournament before the game, with an average of just .182.
Cuba had just brought in their star reliever, left-hander Livan Moinelo, to face Yoshida, who was batting third in the inning. Moinelo was known for his devastating fastball and slider combination, having allowed just one hit in 5 2/3 innings in the tournament before the game.
The Swing of a Lifetime
The count was 1-2 when Yoshida stepped into the box against Moinelo. He worked the count back to 3-2, fouling off some tough pitches along the way. Then came the moment that will stay in the memory of baseball fans forever.
Moinelo threw a 96 mph fastball down and away from Yoshida, who managed to get his bat to the ball and drove it high and deep to right-center field. The ball cleared the fence by a few feet, and the crowd erupted in joyous celebration.
The Aftermath of the Home Run
The homer turned out to be the only run scored by either team in the game, as Japan won the game 1-0, advancing to the semifinals. Yoshida’s heroics earned him the WBC 2017 MVP award, as he went on to hit .364 with two homers and seven RBIs in the tournament.
The home run also received praise from the baseball community worldwide, with many experts calling it one of the best moments in WBC history. The Japanese media and fans celebrated the young outfielder, who had faced some criticism before the tournament, but had come through when it mattered the most.
The Legacy of Yoshida’s Home Run
Yoshida’s home run in the 2017 WBC cemented his place in Japanese baseball history. He went on to play in the Nippon Professional Baseball League and had an excellent season with the Orix Buffaloes in 2020, where he hit .322 with 29 home runs and 87 RBIs.
The home run also reminded fans of the excitement and drama that the WBC brings to the world of baseball. The tournament continues to be a showcase of the best of international baseball, with players from different countries coming together to compete for their nation.
In conclusion, Masataka Yoshida’s iconic home run in the 2017 WBC remains one of the most memorable moments in the tournament’s history. It was a moment of sheer joy and excitement for baseball fans worldwide and showcased the talent and determination of the young Japanese outfielder.