Meet Daisuke Matsuzaka, the rookie Boston Red Sox pitcher who is on the verge of hurling his team into the World Series. After a lackluster regular season, the Japanese pitcher rose to the challenge in game seven, ready to take his place among the heroes of Boston Red Sox baseball history.
He was born in on September 13, 1980, in Aomori, Japan but soon relocated to Tokyo where he grew up in his father’s home.
He is a legend in Japan where he memorably won three games in three straight days during the Japanese high school championship tournament. The first game he threw 254 pitches in 17 innings. The next day he pitched the ninth inning of a comeback win, and the 3rd day he pitched a no hitter.
He turned pro in 1999 becoming an ace pitcher in the Nippon league. As a rookie pitcher, he famous struck ouit Ichiro Suzuki on three straight at bats the first time he faced him. He helped the Japanese baseball national team to a bronze medal in the 2004 Olympic games. He was the MVP of the World Baseball Classic after Japan defeated Cuba for the world series. He was 3-0 in that tournament.
He signed a $52 million contract to pitch for the Boston Red Sox starting with the 2007 season. When the Red Sox signed the Japanese star, they did not envision him starting the 7th game of a championship series. But that is what he did even after a lackluster season, because well, he is all they had left to throw at the Cleveland Indians.
And as he has done in pressure situations throughout his international career, Daisuke Matsuzaka proved that he is the man for the job. He just shut the door on Cleveland and threw his adopted Red Sox team in to the World Series.
Even Carl Yastrzemski never did that.
He is not just a Japanese hero anymore. Daisuke Matsuzaka is an American baseball hero.