Renowned MLB Player and Avid Hublot Ambassador
Usain Bolt, Dustin Johnson, and Pelé – these are just a few of the legendary athletes who serve alongside Masahiro Tanaka as Hublot ambassadors. Tanaka is a starting pitcher for the New York Yankees and proud partner of Hublot. When he signed his contract with the Yankees back in 2014, it was the fifth largest deal ever given to a pitcher at the time. Within a year, he was the iconic team’s Opening Day starting pitcher. He earned his role as the Opening Day starter ever since, passing Hideo Nomo and setting the record for a Japanese pitcher. However, it was not until 2019 that he would pitch his first opening day victory over the Baltimore Orioles. Later in 2019, he also received the opportunity to play in his first MLB All-Star Game. Hublot quickly took note of Tanaka’s burgeoning career. They added the player to their ranks of ambassadors shortly after the Yankees in 2015.
Tanaka was born and raised in Itami, a city in Hyogo, Japan. He started playing baseball at a young age and displayed a clear innate talent. Tanaka had a particularly strong throwing arm that naturally suited him for pitching. He went on to play through high school. There, he developed his signature fastball and clocked a record-setting pitch of 93mph at a championship tournament. Over the course of his high school career, Tanaka struck out 458 batters. This was yet another record over the previous holder, Daisuke Matsuzaka, who notched 423. After high school, he was the first round pick in Nippon Professional Baseball (the equivalent of MLB in Japan). He began his professional career with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles in 2007. A year later, Tanaka became the youngest Japanese baseball player to play in the Olympics as a pro at the 2008 Beijing games.
Six years later, MLB representatives began scouting the star pitcher. By December 2013, he had been officially posted to MLB. The top teams in the league pursued Tanaka. Eventually, the Yankees beat out the Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Houston Astros with a seven-year, $155 million contract. He wasn’t the Yankees starting pitcher in his debut season. However, he pitched his first MLB game in April 2014 and secured a victory. Since then, a number of injuries have caused him to have highs and lows throughout the seasons. Still, he remains a core member of the Yankees lineup.
Work with Hublot: Watches and Beyond
In addition to his professional work in the sport of baseball, Tanaka is passionate about educating the next generation of players. His work with Hublot has allowed him to co-host charities that support baseball classes for youth and aspiring pro-players. Of course, Tanaka’s primary work with Hublot also centralizes around watches. Together, they have created special variations of the brand’s popular models. Their first collaborative piece came in 2015 with the Aero Bang MT88 Masahiro Tanaka Edition. Today, the player’s signature model is a unique skeletonized version of the Classic Fusion in the Yankee’s signature hues.