A hard-hitting Japanese batter has a soft touch in his heart when he swings to Philippine baseball.
Keiji Katayama loves to share his knowledge in sport especially to the Filipino enthusiasts particularly to those who are willing to learn more about discipline, upcoming talents and even with the members of the elite national team whom he’s always at bat together during practice and games at the historic Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium and other diamonds.
At 36, Katayama who hails from Himeji City, Hyogo in Japan, is still active. He is mulling to be a coach and manager as well in the near future to help uplift the sport in his second home, the Philippines, as he acknowledged the natural talent of the Filipinos to excel in international field.
He cited Japan as one of the world power in baseball because of its long range and comprehensive program, discipline, determination and teamwork from its stakesholders including the corporate sector and the government. These are the major factors to achieve excellence in baseball.
Keiji started his baseball enthusiasm during his elementary days at Mega Club as a pitcher, playing in prefecture tournaments representing his city then pitched for Nada Junior High School Baseball Club and eventually won three championships followed by his stint as a shortstop in Nishi High School Baseball Club.
He then played as a second baseman of powerhouse Kansai University.
Keiji’s dream to swing into the major baseball pro league in Japan never came to reality when he moved here in the Philippines and worked as a consultant to a Japanese sports firm and then transferred to Rawlings Company, manufacturer of world quality baseball gloves, as a department head for Research and Development.
While working professionally, he always find time in playing and training for his first love-the baseball which is a big factor in his life’s status and what kind he is up close and personal.
Last year, Katayama was drafted by Manila Sharks in the Baseball Philippines where he helped his team to win a title as a core player.
Recently, he played and coached the Philab Ballbusters, which won the first-ever title in the 1st PSC Chairman’s Cup Baseball Classic.