Just this week, Tuesday night… Kazuhiro Kiyohara, a.k.a “The uncrowned king”, who was an 18-time all-star, a 3-time Best 9 Award winner… and 5-time winner of the gold glove award in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB), played for the Seibu Lions, Yomiuri Giants and Orix Buffaloes… I know many if not all people don’t know him there in the US, but in Japan… He’s a living Baseball legend, and a role-model (also appeared in some of Japan’s TV stations, comedy shows. A guy who can always a put a smile in your face)… With his arrest, numerous stars in the NPB (Sadaharu Oh, Yoshinobu Takahashi, Kimiyasu Kudo and others more)… and former players who played in the Major Leagues (Hideki Matsui, Kazuhiro Sasaki, and Daisuke Matsuzaka), all… expressed their greatest disappointment. Japan’s sporting world was in shock, to see the player they idolize… was arrested for drug use, possession of a banned stimulant known as “Kakuseizai” (no idea what that is).
Over his 22-year career, the power-hitting first baseman helped his teams win the Japan Series eight times, six with the Lions and twice with the Yomiuri Giants. He played with the Giants for nine years after signing as a free agent ahead of the 1997 season.
Kiyohara retired in 2008, and historically, Kiyohara ranks fifth in Japanese Baseball for career home runs, with 525, and is sixth overall in RBIs, with 1,530.
Kiyohara made a name of himself when he was still in highschool, playing for the PL Gakuen based in Osaka, Japan (a well known Baseball powerhouse). Alongside pitcher Masumi Kuwata in their HS years, the duo became known in the popular vernacular of the time as the “K-K Combi”, which stood for the Kiyohara and Kuwata combination. They were widely respected as high school players, and their individual and team accomplishments became memorable parts of the history of schoolboy Baseball in Japan.
“Disappointment and betrayal”, in unison… were the only words they could express. In Japan, a very high-profiled athlete being linked to drug use or possession, is a very, VERY rare event.
Japan’s PM, Shinzo Abe, said this in a statement when heard about his said arrest…
“Many young people were so excited to see his great play at Koshien Stadium. He was a hero for children, and I am very disappointed to hear the news that he was arrested.”
This statement Abe made, was during a Diet debate…
I’ve seen him a lot in videos when I first started watching Japanese Baseball’s old games through Youtube (…saw him a lot in some Baseball brawls, too). I idolize him a bit because of the passion on how he loves playing the game, Japanese “Yakyu”, teaching the young kids on how to be better players… and always rooting for them to achieve their dreams, whether it’s to become a Baseball player, or not… He’s the type of guy who’s not afraid to voice out his opinions to his fellow teammates, he’s always there to give his very best for his team, and most of all, he’s the type of player who won’t give up… Even if his team is down by 10 runs in the 9th… So yeah, I was pretty pissed to see and hear the news (but I’m not that VERY pissed if you compare this to the still Brave Jason Heyward deal in which he was sent to the Cards). He disappointed a lot of fans in Japan, not to mention he betrayed their trust… During his playing days, he said he was “clean”, but it turns out he’s not… My way of expressing my feeling about this is the same as theirs, I am deeply saddened and disappointed… to see him go down like this.
(Daisuke Matsuzaka vs Kazuhiro Kiyohara, happened in year 2002)
(Kazuhiro Kiyohara’s Yomiuri days… This video, was actually the very first video I saw and watched regarding of Kiyohara, discovered this back in 2012… happened in year 2004)
“There are no pinch hitters or relievers in life. You have to do it all for yourself, for his life, I hope he hits a come-from-behind grand slam with a nice trajectory.”
Masumi Kuwata, his former highschool teammate said when heard of his arrest… now a Baseball media analyst. I’m hoping he’ll do this too. To gain back the trust of others, he (Kazuhiro Kiyohara) just destroyed.