Hirokazu Ibata, 48, who made his name as a shortstop in his playing days, has taken the helm of Japan’s national baseball team, Samurai Japan. Ibata, who played for the Junichi Dragons and Yomiuri Giants, has never managed a professional team before. He was an assistant coach with the Yomiuri Giants and coached the U12 national team prior to his appointment.
Ibata announced at his inaugural press conference on Thursday that he will also serve as the head coach of the U15 national team. This means that the A-team coach will also coach the junior national team. Of course, this has never happened before.
Sadaharu Oh, Senichi Hoshino, Tatsunori Hara, Koji Yamamoto, Hiroki Kokubo, Atsunori Inaba, and Hideki Kuriyama have managed the World Baseball Classic (WBC), Olympic, and Premier 12 teams as A-team managers.
A representative from the Samurai Japan Enhancement Committee explained that Ibata wanted to take over as head coach of the U15 team. Ibata was interested in developing young prospects. In addition to being the head coach of the U12 national team, he has coached the U18 and U22 national teams as an interim coach.
Ibata will make his debut at the Asian Professional Baseball Championship in Tokyo in November, but his contract runs through the Premier 12, which will be held next November. After that, the contract will be renewed after each tournament.레고토토
The team must perform well in next year’s Premier 12 to renew their contract. Depending on the situation, the sixth WBC in 2026 could be led by a different manager.
Since Kuriyama stepped down in March after leading Japan to the WBC title, a number of baseball figures have been rumored to be in the running for the job.
From “legends” with no coaching experience such as Ichiro Suzuki and Hideki Matsui, to former Yomiuri manager Yoshinobu Takahashi and former SoftBank Hawks manager Kimiyasu Kudo. A number of candidates reportedly turned down the job.