Thursday, January 31, 2008

Happy Hichori Morimoto Day!

(I did this last year too, so why not?)

It's Hichori Morimoto's 27th birthday today!

As you know, Hichori is one of my favorite players in the entire world. He's a crazy good baseball player and a crazy funny person in general. Like his predecessor in the Fighters centerfield spot Tsuyoshi Shinjo, Hichori has a goal of making people laugh and enjoy baseball, whether it's fans, teammates, or whoever.

Sadly, unlike last year when lots of Hichori-isms were showing up in the press, this year's highschool slugger boy Nakata Sho is completely dominating the Fighters media (and you have no idea how annoying it's getting), so I'm not entirely sure exactly what Hichori is up to, although he was apparently spotted in Hawaii taking batting practice a few weeks ago, hanging out with Shinjo. Cool.

So, instead of rounding up a "What's up with Hichori" for Hichori day this year, I'm going to translate his Wikipedia page into English! Yay!

(I'm leaving the Japanese in this post for now because I'm sure I'll want to tweak my translation in the future and it's easier to do it this way than to keep looking back and forth)

森本 稀哲(もりもと ひちょり、1981年1月31日 - )は、東京都荒川区出身のプロ野球選手。ポジションは外野手で、主に中堅手。北海道日本ハムファイターズ所属。真面目でとにかく明るい性格とスキンヘッドが特徴。イメージカラーは緑。

Hichori Morimoto (1/31/1981 -) is a pro baseball player from the Arakawa area of Tokyo. He is an outfielder for the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, primarily playing center field. He has a bright and interesting personality and is known for having a shaven head. His associated color is green.



His father is a resident (zainichi) Korean and his mother is Japanese. They run a yakiniku restaurant called "Erika" in the Nippori neighborhood of Tokyo where Hichori grew up.

When he was in elementary school, suddenly all of his hair fell out due to an unknown disease. He has gotten better from the disease now, but in order to remember those times and also in honor of other people who have illnesses that cause hair to fall out, he shaves his head every day.


In 1998, Hichori was captain and shortstop for Teikyo High School's baseball team, which played in the Summer Koshien tournament. In the third round of the tournament, playing against Shimane Prefecture's Hamada High School, their team was down 2-0 in the 8th inning, and Hichori hit a 2-run homer off of Tsuyoshi Wada to tie the game (though Hamada went on to win the game anyway). Hichori hit 34 home runs total during his high school career, and was drafted by the Fighters in the fourth round of the 1998 draft, and they converted him to an outfielder.


He made his debut at the top team level in 2000, but it wasn't until 2005 that he really improved enough to stick around and play in over 100 games.


2006 -
- At the end of April he established himself as the leadoff hitter and regular left fielder. He led the Pacific League that year in runs scored, and along with his teammates Atsunori Inaba (RF) and Tsuyoshi Shinjo (CF), won an all-Fighters Golden Glove outfield. 2006 also was Hichori's first time being elected to play in the All-Star game.


2007 -
- Hichori inherited uniform number #1 from the recently-retired Tsuyoshi Shinjo. He batted leadoff and played in every single inning of every single game for the Fighters (ed. note: this is not strictly true -- he DH'ed in one game, the "dare aitsu" game of September 30, but it's true he never missed a game or an at-bat), and batted .300 for the first time. His 24-game hitting streak was tied for the 6th best in Pacific League history and tied for the team best with Hiroshi Oshita.


- He also led the Golden Glove voting for the second year in a row, made the Best Nine team for the first time, and led all of NPB outfielders in assists with 15. (ed. note: No joke. The next highest were 10 from Yokohama's Kinjoh and Rakuten's Teppei.)


He is still close friends with former teammate and fellow 1998 draftee Kazunari Sanematsu (now with the Giants -- and thank god for that). Also, he feels like a younger brother to Shinjo, who gave him the uniform number #1 and named him as his "successor".

Uniform numbers
- 53 (in 1999)
- 46 (2000-2006)
- 1 (2007-)

Titles / Awards / Records

- Golden Glove, 2006 & 2007
- Best Nine - 2007, OF

- All-star game voting (2 times, 2006 / 2007)
- All-star game "new player award" - 2006
- All-star game MVP - 2007
- Japan Series MVP - 2006

- Every inning of every game - 2007
- 24-game hitting streak - tied for 6th in PL history, tied for top of Fighters team history
- 2 leadoff home runs in consecutive games (4/25/06, 4/26/06 vs. Seibu), the 11th person to do so
- Stole home during an All-Star game, the 3rd person to ever do so
- 6 hits in a game (9/17/2006 against Chiba), tying a league record

- Debut game: 8/2/2000, against Seibu at the Seibu dome, came in as a pinch-hitter in the 10th inning, struck out against Shinji Mori
- First starting lineup appearance: 8/10/2000, against Kintetsu at the Osaka Dome, batting first, playing left field
- First hit: same game (8/10/2000), in the third inning off Narciso Elvira
- First home run: same game, 9th inning, off Shinji Udaka
- First RBI: same game, it was that home run
- First stolen base: 7/18/2001, against Seibu at the Tokyo Dome -- in the 2nd inning, pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka, catcher Tsutomu Itoh

- His father named him "Hee-chol" in Korean, and then they made the kanji for "Hichori" in Japanese.

- 入団当時「ひろより」と振り仮名を振ってあった名鑑もあった。また、「稀哲」を「秘哲」と誤植していた名鑑もあった。
- When he first joined the team they misprinted the kanji for his name, thinking it was "Hiroyori".

- 小学生時代に、当時好きだったクラスメイトの女子から「(ドラゴンボールの)ピッコロみたい」と言われた事がある。
- "He looks like Piccolo (from Dragonball Z)!" said female classmates of his in elementary school.

- 高校時代、登校日にはいつも両親手製の焼肉弁当(肉・タレは店で使うものと同じ)を持参し、他の野球部員と交換していた。仲間に焼肉弁当を堪能してもらおうという計らいによる。
- During high school, his parents always made him a yakiniku bento for lunch, which he would bring to school and trade/share with his other baseball teammates. Everyone liked this arrangement :)

- 2006年10月12日のパ・リーグプレーオフ第2ステージ・対福岡ソフトバンクホークス2回戦の9回裏、内野で送球が逸れた際に二塁からホームインし、サヨナラ勝利でリーグ優勝を決めた。優勝の瞬間については「何が何だか分からなかったが、稲葉さんを見たら『喜びを通り越した怖い顔』をしていたので、優勝したことに気付いた」と語っている。
- On 10/12/2006, during the second game of the Pacific League Second Stage playoffs, in the 9th inning, he ran home from second base to score the deciding (and only) run of the game, which won the league championship for the Fighters. He said of that moment, "With all that happened, I best remember seeing Inaba's face, which was of such complete joy that I realized we were the champions."

- 森本には専用の応援歌があるが、2006年のアジアシリーズ決勝戦(11月12日)の第4打席ではファンから後継者という期待を込め、新庄の応援歌の替え歌が演奏された(歌詞中の「メジャー」を「鎌ケ谷」、「新庄」を「稀哲」としていた)。
- During the final game of the 2006 Asia Series, fans sang a parody of Shinjo's player cheer song to cheer for Hichori, replacing the words "Major" with "Kamagaya" and "Shinjo" with "Hichori".

- 2006年11月18日、長袖を千葉県鎌ケ谷市・ファイターズスタジアムに送ってしまったため。札幌市で行われた優勝パレードに半袖のユニフォーム姿で登場した。
- Hichori's long sleeves were supposedly left in Fighters Town Kamagaya and thus he wore short sleeves for the Fighters victory parade in Sapporo on 11/18/2006.

- 2007年3月18日、北海道新幹線大使に任命。
- On 3/18/2007, he was an ambassador for the Hokkaido Shinkansen project.

- 2007年シーズンから、新庄の後を継ぐかのようにタイムリーヒット及び本塁打に「○○ヒッツ!」「○○ホームラン!」と命名している。
- From the 2007 season onwards, he took up Shinjo's gimmick of naming his RBI hits and home runs "so-and-so hit" and "so-and-so home run".

- 2004年9月20日、試合前練習に他の外野手4人(SHINJO、島田一輝、石本努、坪井智哉)とともに『秘密戦隊ゴレンジャー』のマスクをつけて参加。
- 9/20/2004, before the game, he and 4 other players (Shinjo, Shimada, Ishimoto, and Tsuboi) went out in Mighty Morphin Power Ranger masks.

- 2006年7月2日、試合後のヒーローインタビューで尾崎豊の『きっと忘れない』を熱唱(前年のファン感謝イベントでの公約による)。
- 7/2/2006, he sang Yutaka Ozaki's "Kitto Wasurenai" song during a hero interview.

- 2006年7月21日、オールスターゲーム第1戦の試合前イベントに漫画『ドラゴンボール』の登場人物・ピッコロの姿で登場。しかし版権の問題からか、実況は一切コメントをしなかった。第2戦(7月23日)の試合前イベントにはカツラを装着し、差し歯を抜いて登場。
- 7/21/2006 - during the All-Star game, he dressed up as Piccolo from Dragonball Z.

- 2006年8月13日、試合前のスターティングメンバー紹介時に1人だけ「ラリージャパン」の幟をつけた自転車で入場(他の先発メンバーは全員ラリーカーに乗って入場。ラリージャパンの宣伝のため)。
- 8/13/2006 - during the starting lineups, he rode a "Rally Japan" little bicycle out onto the field, despite that all of the other players had ridden cars out.

- 2006年10月26日、日本シリーズ優勝決定後のビールかけの場にスピードスケート選手の衣装で登場。
- During the beer-spraying party following the 2006 Japan Series, he dressed up as a speed skater.

- 2007年6月2日、試合前練習に特注の竹馬とズボンを履いて登場。当日先発登板したダルビッシュ有の身長をはるかに超える3mの「ひちょ・マックス」姿で守備練習を行った。
- 6/2/2007, he came out onto the field before the game wearing stilts and called himself "Hicho MAX!"

- 2007年7月20日に行われたオールスターゲーム第1戦では帽子から「伸びた頭」を披露。しかし遠目ではよく分からなかったため、不評であった。
- 7/20/2007 - during the All-Star 2007 games, he dressed up as a conehead.

- 翌日(7月21日)の第2戦ではタイのムエタイ風の姿(上半身裸に緑のトランクス)で登場し、全パのヒルマン監督と打ち合った。
- The next day he came out dressing like a Muay Thai boxer in green trunks.

- 同年シーズンオフの三井ゴールデングラブ賞表彰式会場に、マイケル・ジャクソン『スリラー』の様な上下赤のレザーファッションとメイクで登場
- During the Golden Glove ceremonies, he dressed up as Michael Jackson.

- 同年(12月1日)札幌ドームで開催された日ハムのファンフェスティバルにて、選手のPK対決で同じ地元のJリーグチーム・コンサドーレ札幌のユニフォームを着てゴールを決めた(その時のキーパー役は鶴岡慎也)。
- During the fan festival, he came out dressed up as a soccer player for Consadole Sapporo, and kicked a goal (the goalkeeper was Fighters catcher Shinya Tsuruoka).

Yikes, my brain hurts from going through all that. I need to add pictures to most of those later "episodes", although I'm sure by now everyone's seen the one of him dressed as Piccolo during the ASG...

Anyway, happy Hichori day! And remember.. Hichori Day means only one day until Spring Training!

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