Was thinking about this old post today:
That was the legendary face-off in Koushien between two high school pitchers, Yuuki Saito and Masahiro Tanaka. 12th graders in high school at the time, Tanaka (Maa-kun) went straight to the pros, and Saito (though he could easily have gone pro then) decided to go on to college baseball at Waseda Univ.
Now, nearly 5 years later...
Maa-kun has been (and still is) an extremely popular and successful young pitcher for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles. We still love him up here in Hokkaido, and Fighters fans enjoy seeing him as the opposing pitcher when the Fighters play the Eagles.
Yuuki Saito kind of disappeared from the public eye for a while while he played college baseball (it is not followed here on the scale that pro baseball and the Koushien high school tournament are). He recently finished college, and was signed to our team, the Fighters, over the winter!! Although he was the pitcher opposing the Hokkaido team in Koushien 5 years ago, Fighters fans have been very excited to get him on our team. He is getting a lot of interest and press. He is still referred to as the Handkerchief Prince, although I think he has grown out of that stage of his life and probably wishes he had a different nickname. However, he puts up with it gracefully.
My husband took one of our neighbors to see him pitch in a Fighters game today, and we won. :) Today's game wasn't against Rakuten, but at some point we will be sure to see another Maa-kun vs. Yuuki Saito face-off!!
Here's to Maa-kun and Yuuki Saito, two nice young pitchers -- glad they are both doing great, 5 years after they were catapulted to national fame in Koushien! :)