Tanaka will be returning to Japan to play for the Golden Eagles.
Baseball is often considered the official pastime of the US, but did you know that Japan absolutely loves baseball? Ever since it was introduced to the country in 1872, baseball has become Japan’s biggest spectator sport, with the Nippon Professional Baseball circuit churning out scores of top-shelf players. Lots of these players come over to the States to play in the majors and broaden their horizons, but sometimes, you just can’t beat the feel of your home turf.
Masahiro Tanaka, a former NPB player who’s been with the New York Yankees as a free agent for seven glorious years, announced today that he was retiring from the team and would be returning to his homeland to play in the NPB circuit.
“I have decided to return to Japan and play for the Rakuten Eagles for the 2021 season,” Tanaka wrote on Twitter. “I wanted to make sure and touch base with you, and thank you for all the love and support you have given me for the past 7 seasons.
“I feel extremely fortunate for having the opportunity to take the field as a member of the New York Yankees, and play in front of all you passionate fans. it has been an honor and a privilege! Thank you so much!!”
— 東北楽天ゴールデンイーグルス (@Rakuten__Eagles) January 28, 2021
The Rakuten Golden Eagles, or just Rakuten Eagles for short, was founded in 2005 in Sendai, Miyagi as part of the NPB’s Pacific League. They’re the youngest team in the circuit, and by the way they responded to Tanaka’s announcement on their official Twitter, they’re welcoming him home with open arms.