Former high school and pro baseball pitcher trades cleats for police badge
August 24 The Asahi Shimbun - Ota, 30 has traded his cleats for a badge as an officer with the Musashino Police Station of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department.
He watches passers-by come and go at the police box at Kichijoji Station's east exit in Tokyo’s Musashino.
While standing in front of the koban, he was asked for directions and points out the way on a map.
When the person says, “Thank you,” Ota smiles.
Ota tries to listen to people while thinking about their feelings.
“Becoming the party to an incident or accident is a huge event for them,” he said. “I would like to respond to them one by one sincerely, including guiding their way.”
Ota was born in Nishihara, Okinawa Prefecture. He grew up in Tokyo’s Edogawa Ward from the age of 3.
He started playing baseball when he was in the fourth grade in elementary school because other kids around him played the sport.
He later attended baseball powerhouse Teikyo Senior High School, which won the national high school tournament three times at Koshien Stadium in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture, in the spring and the summer competitions.
Ota's team played in the high school tournaments at Koshien three times when he was pitching for them, in summer 2006 and spring and summer 2007.
When he was a third-year student, he pitched against Ogi High School of Saga Prefecture in the first-round game in the spring tournament in 2007. In the game, Ota recorded 20 strikeouts, and his team advanced to the semi-finals.
The same year, he was selected by Yokohama BayStars in the third round of the professional baseball draft for high school players and became a professional baseball player.
In his first year as a pro in 2008, he pitched in five games, and in the sixth year he finally picked up his first victory on the mound. He pitched in 38 games that season, the most appearances he made in a season while playing for Yokohama.
The BayStars released Ota in 2015. The following year, he joined the Orix Buffaloes after passing the team's tryout test, but he pitched only once and was released.
He participated in a joint tryout offered by 12 professional teams at the end of 2016, but he was not picked up by any team and decided to retire from baseball.
“I had some regrets because I wanted to play for 10 years as a professional baseball player,” he said looking back on his career.
Ota has a wife and two children. At the tryout venues, there were brochures available pitching other lines of work, including police officers and Self-Defense Forces members. He picked up many of the pamphlets and brought them home to consider his post-baseball work options.
Ota had some discussions with his wife, and he decided to become a police officer, which his children thought was a "cool" occupation.
He decided to take the Tokyo metropolitan police test and studied nearly six hours a day for it. He passed the written and physical exams and job interview. Then, he entered the police department in September 2017.
After entering the police force, he learned about the law and how to make arrests for 10 months at a police academy in Tokyo’s Fuchu.
He was assigned to the regional section of the Musashino Police Station in July 2018 and first worked at the Yahatacho police box.
He has also worked at other police boxes around Kichijoji Station with the responsibility for regional safety at the forefront.
Ota wants to work on juvenile cases in the future because of his own experiences when he was in junior high school.
He often saw teammates and opposing team members suddenly quit playing baseball and turn to juvenile delinquency in those days.
“I discovered that many of them regretted doing so when we met at class reunions,” he said. “I want to work in the field of rehabilitation for juvenile delinquents.”