Born: September 13, 1980, Tokyo, Japan
High School: Yokohama Koko, Yokohama
Currently: Pitcher, Seibu Lions
In March 2006, ace pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka led Team Japan to the World Championship at the first-ever World Baseball Classic, where he also won the Tournament’s Most Valuable Player award. His performance may have shocked the world, but it did not surprise the people of Japan, who still remember with awe what he did on Japan’s biggest stage, eight years before.
Matsuzaka became a national hero in 1998 when he pitched Yokohama High School into the Koshien Tournament and dominated the competition like no one before or since. In the semi-final game at Koshien, his team faced P.L. Gakuen High School, one of the traditional powers of high school baseball. In stifling heat, Matsuzaka pitched a game for the ages, emerging victorious after 17 grueling innings and 250 pitches. The very next day, in the title game, he hurled a no-hitter to win the National Championship.
Matsuzaka was drafted #1 overall by the Seibu Lions of Nippon Pro Baseball, and was an ace pitcher for Japan in both the Summer Olympics and the World Baseball Classic. Expect to see the rubber-armed Matsuzaka in the American Major Leagues after 2006.