Gaining entry into the 2,000-hit club is usually among the final chapters in most players’ careers. For Yomiuri Giants star Hayato Sakamoto, though, reaching one of the game’s crowning achievements for a hitter might just be a stepping stone to even more rarefied heights.
Sakamoto on Sunday became the 53rd player to collect 2,000 NPB hits and immediately everyone began looking ahead.
“Up next is 3,000 right?” teased pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, who was a teammate of Sakamoto’s in little league and delivered one of the video messages on the scoreboard at Tokyo Dome on Sunday. NPB legend Sadaharu Oh also encouraged Sakamoto to reach for 3,000. Koji Uehara, a former MLBer and retired Yomiuri great in his own right, is another who thinks 3,000 is a realistic goal for his former teammate.