Hideki Kuriyama named new manager of world No. 1 Samurai Japan National Baseball Team

Hideki Kuriyama named new manager of world No. 1 Samurai Japan National Baseball Team
02/12/2021
Kuriyama said his goal would be showing "what Japanese baseball is like...The number of children playing baseball is decreasing...I want to build a team made of players who fight with their souls and demonstrate how fun playing baseball is."

The Olympic gold medal winners and WBSC Premier12 champions Samurai Japan today appointed Hideki Kuriyama as their new national team manager. He replaces Atsunori Inaba, who stepped down earlier this year.

"I was surprised," said Kuriyama, "I had never imagined I would have this opportunity."

Kuriyama said his goal would be showing "what Japanese baseball is like."
He added: "The number of children playing baseball is decreasing. I want to build a team made of players who fight with their souls and demonstrate how fun playing baseball is."

The new Samurai Japan manager also added that the best way to prove the greatness of Japanese baseball would be through wins.

The feeling is shared by Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) Commissioner Akira Saito, who set the next World Baseball Classic trophy as the first goal of Kuriyama's tenure.

"As the face of Samurai Japan, I believe coach Kuriyama will lead not only the Japanese baseball world but also the sports world," said Commissioner Saito.

NPB Secretary General Atsushi Ihara, the chairman of the Committee overseeing the Samurai Japan National Team manager selection process, said that they were looking for a manager who had the "ability to communicate nationwide" and possess an "understanding of the entire baseball world, including the amateur sector."

Kuriyama, 60, is a former NPB outfielder and gold glove winner. He enjoyed a nine-season career with the Tokyo Yakult Swallows, the latest Japan Series winners.

After working as a TV analyst, the new Samurai Japan skipper managed the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters from 2012 to 2021, leading them to the Pacific League pennant 2012 and 2016 and the 2016 Japan Series title. He is credited for helping to develop two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani.

Kuriyama also received the Matsutaro Shoriki Award 2016 for his contribution to the development of professional baseball.

The prize was founded in 1977 and named after the media mogul (1885-1969) who owned the Yomiuri Shimbun and founded the Nippon Television Network Corporation, the first commercial TV station in the country. Shoriki, who organized the Japanese All-Star Team that faced a Major League Baseball (MLB) All-Star in 1934, is considered the father of professional baseball in Japan.