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Becoming the third person in history to pitch a perfect game!
Heading into the autumn games with the goal of becoming a pro player.

Yuhei Takanashi

Yuhei Takanashi capped the historic moment with a small triumphant pose. Only the third person in the history of the Tokyo Big Six Baseball League, and the first in Waseda baseball history, Takanashi pitched a perfect game.

Looking back on the moment when he achieved this amazing record, Takanashi stated, “I relaxed and just consciously pitched like I always do.” Feeling strain in his shoulder after the fifth inning, Takanashi tried getting a massage from the trainer behind the bench. Since this brought his pitching velocity back up, Takanashi superstitiously set up a routine of receiving the same care after each inning for the same number of seconds. After a well-hit ball came right to one of the fielders, Takanashi continued pitching as he calmly felt that he was on good form that day and that the day might just be the one where he could make a new record. After the seventh inning, he was repeatedly told by his teammates that if he achieved a perfect game, he would be the third person in history to do so. Players facing the creation of a new record often get nervous and normally the topic is handled gently, but being treated like always by his teammates actually helped Takanashi to relax.

The Waseda Nine gather in a circle around Captain Wataru Tojo (4th year, School of Culture, Media and Society). They make sure of instructions from the coach, Takeshi Okamura and raise their spirits.

Looking back, Takanashi’s baseball career hasn’t always been smooth sailing. Although Takanashi has been aiming for the pros since junior high school and has received attention as a promising player for his left arm since high school, he never achieved his dream of appearing at Koshien Stadium. In the autumn league tournament held half a year after he entered Waseda University, Takanashi managed to be selected as one of the only two pitchers for the starting lineup in the games out of a pitching pool of 30, going on to then achieve five wins in the tournament, a team best. However, Takanashi then injured his elbow and ankle in succession. Going ahead with surgery, Takanashi experienced many days of being unable to pitch to his satisfaction and did not have a single opportunity to take the mound in the 2012 Japan National Collegiate Baseball Championship, where Waseda became the top university team in Japan. Watching his teammates succeed in this irritating state was the most frustrating moment of his baseball career.

“At the time, it was very aggravating and I wasn’t able to feel happy about the victory. However, I realized that I wouldn’t be able to grow as a player feeling like that. Even if I am injured now, I can still think about what I can do for the team.”

Then the current season arrived. Recovered from his injuries, Takanashi once again achieved a seat in the starting lineup after fierce competition. The match where Takanashi threw a perfect game on March 26 was his first time taking the mound that season. Because of this, what Takanashi first felt after the match was relief that he had been able to score a win. Takanashi modestly states that the reason he was able to achieve this feat was thanks to his teammates. Being the fourth batter in high school and now serving as a fielder in addition to his role as pitcher, Takanashi knows better than any pitcher the difficulty of defense.

“I felt that it was the people on defense who experienced more pressure than the pitcher. To be honest, in a perfect game, I’d rather not be on defense, ha ha. That’s why I really believe that record was thanks to the abilities of my teammates.”

Takanashi was able to make this amazing achievement because he had tasted frustration and because he had the support of his teammates. However, now, with the season over, Takanashi does not feel a sense of fulfillment.

“Even a perfect game is still just one win. After that game, we weren’t able to achieve the expected results, and we finished in fourth place. I can’t be happy with that.”

Although Takanashi watched over the victory in frustration last year, his effort will help him to taste future victory on the mound. It will also help him to achieve his childhood dream. Determined to score victory in the autumn league competition next fall as a step to the pros, we have high hopes for his future career and want to watch what happens next in the league.

Takanashi showing off his powerful pitching. As he is left-handed, Takanashi has naturally been on the path of a pitcher since he was a child.

Takanashi also demonstrates exceptional ability as a batter.

The cheers from the filled out stands become the strength of the Waseda Nine. Takanashi pitched a perfect game in the second match against the University of Tokyo as his family watched on.

(Offered By:WASEDA WEEKLY)

Yuhei Takanashi
3rd Year, School of Sport Sciences

Originally from Saitama, Yuhei Takanashi graduated from Kawagoe Higashi High School. Takanashi is double trouble for any enemy team, being both a left handed pitcher/batter and an excellent fielder as well. He likes rock music so much he formed a band in high school to perform in the culture festival. During his rare breaks, going shopping is how Takanashi likes to refresh now.