Isokazu Kubota, the Hattori Hanzo of bat makers, has put the final touch on decades of legacy crafting bats for baseball legends, including Hideki Matsui.
The 70-year-old skilled artisan said he is retiring from the craft after five decades of plying baseball lumber for a number of star players. Kubota began manufacturing baseball bats for professional players at Mizuno Technics Corp in 1965.
Since then, he has made hundreds of thousands of special bats for big league players such as Japanese superstar Hiromitsu Ochiai of the Lotte Orions, Pete Rose (Major League Baseball’s all-time hits leader), and Hideki Matsui of the New York Yankees.
Kubota said one of his most memorable experiences was when Ochiai and the Hanshin Tigers’ Randy Bass both won consecutive Triple Crowns in 1985 and 1986.
Matsui, 2009 World Series MVP, used Kubota-made bats for most of his 10 seasons with the Yomiuri Giants and 10 years in the majors.
“I’m proud to have used Kubota-san’s bats in every-at-bat of every game of my pro career. Kubota satisfied my requests 100 percent for 20 years until my retirement,” said Matsui, known as “Godzilla” on the plate.
Kubota, who earned the title of “contemporary master craftsman” in 2003, said he is retiring because he is getting too old for the trade. His successors at his company will carry forward his legacy, he said.
By Maesie Bertumen