Often times, when the stakes are high, it’s difficult for athletes to maintain good sportsmanship. But that didn’t stop one high school baseball player from responding admirably after being hit with a pitch. During a Japanese high school baseball championship (a massive event in Japan known as Koshien), Kennobu Sugawara proved that what goes around really does come around.
First, let’s put this event into perspective a little bit. Every year, 56 high school teams from around Japan come together to compete for the championship title. The 15-day event hosts a crowd of nearly 50,000, aired on national television, and is probably the biggest athletic event in these kids’ lives. Needless to say, it’s a pretty big deal. In the seventh inning of his team’s game against Akashi Shoten Sugawara was hit by a pitch. Instead of taking the free base that’s typically awarded after such a hit, the teen admitted that he leaned in to the pitch. In the YouTube clip of the incident, Sugawara is seen bowing to the pitcher, then to the opponent’s dugout before stepping back into the box and hitting a home run.
“I thought I was bad because I had been bent forward and I was sorry. I apologized to the opponent,” Sugawara later said, according to Yahoo Japan. Despite his honorable intentions and killer homer, Sugawara’s team still lost 4-3. But, his moment of sportsmanship lives on forever in the inspiring clip, which now has close to 2 million views, and he’ll surely be remembered for it for years to come.