Yanks P Hiroki Kuroda Once ran like Forrest Gump as Punishment in Japan, Hydrated with Polluted Water | Bob's Blitz

Yanks P Hiroki Kuroda Once ran like Forrest Gump as Punishment in Japan, Hydrated with Polluted Water

David Waldstein has a great piece on Yankees pitcher Hiroki Kuroda's childhood in the NYT titled Yankees’ Kuroda Was Molded by Pain in Japan.

“It was a generation,” the 37-year-old Kuroda said referring to his baseball training in Japan, “when coaches believed you should not drink water.”

Summer practices in the heat and humidity of Osaka lasted from 6 a.m. until after 9 p.m. Kuroda was hit with bats and forced to kneel barelegged on hot pavement for hours.

“Many players would faint in practice,” Kuroda said with the assistance of his interpreter, Kenji Nimura. “I did go to the river and drink. It was not the cleanest river, either. I would like to believe it was clean, but it was not a beautiful river.

“In order to play,” he added, “you had to survive. We were trained to build an immune system so that we could survive and play.”
But the most severe punishment would be dished out if you struggled as a ballplayer as Hiroki did as a 15-year-old for his school, Uenomiya High. After several bad games in a row, he was instructed, simply, to run by his coach.

What did 'run' mean to Hiroki and his manager? It meant start running from foul pole to foul pole. And don't stop. And don't eat. And don't drink. From 6 a.m. until 10 p.m. For four days.

Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine, who managed in Japan: “How come they let him stop at 10?” Valentine asked. “What, did he have a particularly liberal coach?”

He apparently was a bit liberal. Kuroda was subjected to the ketsu batto -- being hit with a bat for giving up a hit, etc. But nothing like Kazumasa Kono experienced. Anyone recall the Ass Bat Incident? No? Check that out. You'll understand even more completely when Waldstein points out "In the United States, such treatment might be considered criminal. And today in Japan, lawsuits from parents have drastically changed what is considered acceptable."

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