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ジョージア魂賞 : 「ジョージア魂」賞年間大賞は阪神・城島健司捕手に決定! 〜二宮清純書き下ろしコラムも更新〜
投稿日時: 2010-11-23 21:39:00

 缶コーヒーブランド「ジョージア」は、今シーズンよりプロ野球12球団と提携、さらにNPBパートナー契約を締結し、“チームの勝利のために貢献した素晴らしいプレー”に贈られる「ジョージア魂」賞を創設しています。このたび、第1回〜12回の「ジョージア魂」賞受賞全12プレーの中から年間大賞が決定しました。2010年度「ジョージア魂」賞年間大賞には城島健司捕手(阪神)が3月27日(対横浜)にみせたサヨナラ本塁打が選ばれました。

(写真:日本球界復帰の開幕シリーズで大活躍!)

「ジョージア魂」賞年間大賞は、シーズン中のファン投票により選ばれた全12回の「ジョージア魂」賞受賞全12プレーの中から、「ジョージア ベースボールパーク」のサイト上のファン投票によって決定しました。城島捕手のプレーには、総投票数92,534票中、最多の15,450票が集まりました。また上記を除く受賞11プレーより、山田久志氏(元阪急)、高木豊氏(元大洋)、伊東勤氏(元西武)、桑田真澄氏(元巨人)、柳本元晴氏(週刊ベースボール編集長)、二宮清純(当HP編集長)の6名の選考委員によって「ジョージア魂」賞選考委員特別賞も選出されています。2010年度の同賞には天谷宗一郎選手(広島)が8月22日(対横浜)にみせた外野フェンスを駆け上がってのスーパーキャッチが輝きました。

「ジョージア ベースボールパーク」のサイトでは、二宮清純の書き下ろしコラム「野球探偵007」のコーナーをオフシーズンも月2回更新しています。過去の受賞プレーはもちろん、惜しくも受賞を逃したノミネートプレーの中から二宮があらためて取り上げたいものを題材にコラムを執筆します。当サイトでは、今回、年間大賞に輝いた城島捕手のコラムを特別に掲載します。

 阪神・城島健司「本塁打スライディングの意味」

 今から9年前のことだ。ニューヨーク・メッツに入団したばかりの新庄剛志はオープン戦でフロリダ・マーリンズのピッチャーからホームランを放った。ダイヤモンドを一周し、ホームベースに差しかかったところで新庄は不思議な動きをした。足でホームベースを踏む代わりに、右手で軽くタッチしたのだ。

 これがマーリンズベンチには挑発的行為に映った。オレたちをおちょくりやがって! というわけである。もちろん新庄に悪意があったわけではない。彼は「次の打者がストライクゾーンを見やすいように」と土を払ったのだ。

 この一件を機に新庄はマーリンズの標的となった。5月24日、本拠地での対マーリンズ戦、11対3と8点リードで迎えた8回、新庄はカウント0−3からストレートを強振した。空振り。これがマーリンズベンチには“死者にムチ打つ行為”だと映った。翌日、0対3のスコアで迎えた7回1死一塁の場面で、新庄の左肩に報復球が飛んできた。オープン戦からの恨みをマーリンズは晴らしたわけである。

 長い前置きになった。シアトル・マリナーズから阪神タイガースに移籍した城島健司は3月27日の横浜戦で延長11回にサヨナラホームランを放ち、ナインが待つホームベースにヘッドスライディングした。

 もしメジャーリーグが舞台なら、こんな真似はしなかっただろう。それこそ次の日のから報復の対象となる。敢えて日本の球場でド派手なパフォーマンスを行なったのは「ここは日本だ。オレを受け入れてくれた仲間たちのために精一杯頑張る」という意思表示のように私の目には映った。

 コミュニケーションが必要なキャッチャーというポジションもあり、メジャーリーグで城島は辛酸を舐め続けた。城島のリードを嫌ったピッチャーたちからソッポを向かれたこともある。それが契約を2年も残して帰国する理由のひとつであったことは想像に難くない。

 キャッチャーはチームメイトとの絆なくしては務められないポジションである。仲間がいるからハードワークに耐えられるのだ。監督の信頼があるから、弱音を隠すことができるのだ。シアトルでの4年間、城島はそれが十分に得られなかった。疎外感を振り払うことができなかった。ホームベースへのヘッドスライディングは「こんなオレだけど、よろしく!」という彼なりのメッセージだったのではないだろうか。

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