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WBC Skipper Kuriyama: I Was Able to Convey Splendor of Japanese Baseball

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Former Samurai Japan skipper Hideki Kuriyama smiles as he receives bouquets of flowers at his farewell press conference in Tokyo on Friday.

Hideki Kuriyama, who as skipper led Samurai Japan to the title at the World Baseball Classic in March, said in farewell remarks that he felt he was able to convey the splendor of Japanese baseball during his stint as manager.

“In the end, we were able to win the tournament, and I am thankful for the great Japanese baseball that our predecessors created,” Kuriyama, 62, said at a press conference in Tokyo on Friday.

Kuriyama managed Samurai Japan to its first WBC championship in three tournaments. His contract as national team manager ended at the end of May.

Looking back over the 1½ years since he took the manager’s post in December 2021, he said: “My thoughts were focused every day on the WBC. I have had such a fulfilling time that I don’t think I will ever match that experience again. I’m very grateful to have been given a situation in which I could devote myself.”

In the WBC, Samurai Japan won all seven of its games from the first round through the final, with superb performances from two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels and other players who rose to the occasion.

When asked about his most memorable game, he said, “The moment we won [in the final] was probably a big one, but every single game will be unforgettable for the rest of my life.”

Regarding his players’ performances in the WBC, Kuriyama said: “I was moved as I fought alongside them. I was able to see things I had never seen before. No matter how many times we meet in the future, I think I will continue to say to them, ‘Thank you.’”