“The King” hangs up his bat and glove

By
Updated: August 26, 2016

Tsu

The Cajun Chronicles
Gary Salisbury
January 29th 2024
Yashio, Tokyo, Japan

With a record-breaking 654 home runs in an amazing decade and a half in PEBA, the playing time of the man they call “The King” has come to an end. Tsumemasa Morimoto has called it a career this afternoon in a press conference in his native Yashio, just outside Tokyo, Japan.

“There is nothing left for me to accomplish.” he said. “I had fun in baseball, and now it is time to enjoy life. Now I have more time to paint! I have been making baseball paintings at home. You should see it! Maybe one day I will offer them for sale”, he added, smiling.

He did say he would most likely be seen at Neo-Tokyo Akira games in the near future, as he plans to bring his young 4-year-old son Shinzō to some local games. Up until now, his playing career had prevented him from doing so.

Not one to say much, Morimoto (known as “Tsu” to his friends in North America) has been a dominant, yet quiet figure in PEBA.

He began his career with the Florida Featherheads during PEBA’s debut season in 2007. As a 20-year-old, he stunned the establishment with his 33 home runs and 81 RBI. Not a bad total for such a young player. Over the next few seasons, the big 6’3 first baseman became the F-Heads’ primary slugger, leading the team in home runs in the team’s first seven seasons. By the age of 24, he smashed 50 home runs in a season : becoming only the third player in league history to achieve this.

In 2011, he was part of a championship-winning Featherheads team that won 111 games in the regular season (the second-highest total in league history). Tsu was in top form : 50 HR, 138 RBI, and a WAR above 6.0 for the second consecutive season.

However, by 2015, it looked like Tsu’s magic had faded. Admittedly not a man with great patience at the plate, he struggled to keep his batting average above .220 that year and was eventually traded to Manchester for left-fielder Nelson Young and a 3rd round pick, but was quickly re-dealt in June 2016 to New Orleans. Despite the disruption, he never complained or said a word about it in the media. That year, he hit a career-high 53 homers between his stints with the Maulers and Trendsetters…. it still stands as PEBA’s all-time single-season record.

His arrival in New Orleans was hailed as a new beginning for a team that had not recorded a winning season in half a decade. Sadly, the team could never match his considerable talents, and he soldiered on for six more seasons with the team. During that time, they would never achieve a winning record. Also, by now, his “go big or go home” eye at the plate was becoming more and more of a problem as he played through his thirties. His batting average dipped from a comfortable .260 with Florida, to the .225 range with New Orleans. He began to compile a worrisome number of strikeouts, and today his total of 2294 whiffs is the most in PEBA history by a wide margin. He leads his next closest on the list by over 400.

During the 2022 season he hit a still-impressive 37 home runs as a 35 year old, but by now was struggling to keep his average in the .200’s. With younger players now reaching the majors to challenge his spot on the roster, he was released by the Trendsetters at the end of the season.

Still, despite a less-than-flattering second half of his career, Tsu regrets nothing : “Oh, yes I struck out. I had to! You can’t hit that [home runs] without taking chances! That’s what I was good at, so I was OK with strikeouts sometimes.”

He turned the question around back to the reporter: “I have to ask, did you enjoy those home runs?” Tsu asked him.

“I suppose I did”, the reporter replied.

“Good! Exactly!” Tsu exclaimed, with a giant grin. Clearly, the inner child that motivated him all these years is still alive and well.

Having fun was the name of the game for Morimoto. He certainly provided a lot of joy to those who also watched him play.

Who knows, we might even see that big smile again one day if PEBA introduces a Hall of Fame…