Baseball / Japanese Baseball

Septuagenarian Marines batting practice pitcher to hang up glove

Kyodo

Seventy-year-old right-hander Shigeki Ikeda will draw the curtain on his career as batting practice pitcher for the Chiba Lotte Marines, the Pacific League club said Friday.

Ikeda had served a dual role as batting practice pitcher and dormitory supervisor for the Chiba-based club since 2012, and has gained attention for throwing to hitters as young as his grandchildren from behind the protective screen.

“It’s been 49 years since I joined Japan pro baseball, and 44 years since I joined Lotte. I only have words of gratitude after being allowed to have baseball in my life for so long,” said Ikeda in a statement released through the club.

“I’d like to experience coaching young kids. You’ll probably continue to see me pitching somewhere.”

Born in Usuki, Oita Prefecture, Ikeda was a fourth-round draft pick for the Taiyo Whales (now Yokohama BayStars) in 1968, before moving to the Marines for whom he played from 1971 to 1977.

After retiring in 1997 and enjoying coaching stints for his current team, he wound up as the team dorm supervisor in 2000 where he was responsible for overseeing operations at the facility where most unmarried players reside.