Roki Sasaki apologizes for HBP with bags of candy

March 13th, 2023

Roki Sasaki can throw the ball harder than almost anyone in the world. Facing the Czech Republic in Japan's 10-2 victory on Saturday night, Sasaki topped 100 mph 21 times out of just 66 pitches. Unfortunately for young outfielder Willie Escala, one of those pitches hit him right in the leg.

Photo by Tomáš Icík, Czech Baseball Associaton

Remarkably, Escala not only walked off the HBP, but he didn't miss any time in the tournament.

Not only that, on Monday morning Sasaki came by to make amends. Following the Japanese tradition of apologizing and offering a gift after hitting a batter, Sasaki stopped by the Czech team's hotel before its buses went to the ballpark. He signed a ball for Escala and -- even better -- brought him two stuffed bags bursting with Japanese candy.

"That's part of the game and it does happen, you know when people get hit," Escala said, "So, it was really a class act for him to come out and just apologize and make sure that I was good."

"I'm really happy I got to meet him and show him the bruise," Escala said. "He was this amazing person -- he brought me a bunch of snacks. I'm sharing them with the team now so that was that was really funny but cool, as well."

Tomáš Icík, Czech Baseball Association

"That was a wow moment," team captain Petr Zyma said before the Czech Republic's 8-3 loss to Australia. "The Japanese culture never stops to amaze me each day we are here. They once again took it to another level as a superstar that Roki is; he took his time to come to the bus, meet Escala, send us a bunch of candy and sign a ball for Willie. It was a huge sign of respect."

"He reminded me that baseball is not just war or a business, but the sport of gentlemen," manager Pavel Chadim said.

After the game, Chadim wore a Japanese hachimaki and said, "Thanks, Japan! Thank you!" before the start of the news conference.

"The things the Roki did to us is such a heartwarming thing and it touched us," he later added. "That brings us a huge extra energy, and I'd like to again thank the nation of Japan."