On a team full of diverse and interesting characters, Red Sox closer Koji Uehara may be the most intriguing.
The right-hander rose from relative obscurity to become a dominant force at the back end of the Boston bullpen, and he’s worn his exuberant attitude on his sleeve throughout it all.
Uehara, who speaks to reporters through an interpreter, rarely gives extensive interviews, which makes the one ESPN.com’s Gordon Edes conducted with him earlier this week all the more interesting.
Uehara revealed to Edes that his original career ambition was not to play professional baseball, but rather to teach physical education to high schoolers. He also shared stories from his own high school days, when he spent the majority of his time as an outfielder. It wasn’t until college — after working a year working as a security guard while studying for the entrance exam — that he began to hone his craft as a full-time pitcher.
“My college was not really a baseball school,” Uehara said through translator C.J. Matsumoto, “so the manager told us just choose whatever position you want to play. The last year in high school, I pitched five innings and I thought it was fun. I thought pitching would be fun.”
One of the best closers in the majors is a 38-year-old who formerly aspired to teach gym and picked up pitching for fun? Koji Uehara really is the most interesting man in Boston.