They make quite a couple – he’s one of the young stars of Japanese baseball, she made her name as a bit of an idiot. Rakuten Eagles ace pitcher Tanaka Masahiro (23) and talento Satoda Mai (27, right photo, center) announced their engagement to the media by fax yesterday. The pair said that they plan to tie the knot at the end of March before the start of the baseball season. They mentioned no plans for a wedding ceremony and Satoda said she plans to continue her showbiz career as long as it does not impede her ability to be the ideal housewife.
The two first made their romance public on their blogs in November 2010 and they were seen visiting Bali together the following month. Tanaka first entered the national spotlight as a teenager, when he was on the losing end of an epic pitchers’ duel in the final of the 2006 National High School Baseball Tournament (commonly referred to by the venue, Koshien) against Saito Yuki (23), now the ace for the Nippon Ham Fighters. In 2007 he was named rookie of the year, and in 2011 Tanaka had his best season to date as a pro, with a 19-5 record and his first Eiji Sawamura Award. Satoda got her start as a member of the Hello! Project group Country Musume and is now one of TV’s so-called “o-baka kyara,” which refers to celebrities whose perceived role on the variety show circuit is basically to be dumb. Together with the similarly intellectually challenged Kinoshita Yukina (24) and Suzanne (25) she was a member of the pop trio Pabo. She broke with something of a trend by marrying someone younger – Kinoshita married comedian Fujimoto Toshifumi (41) in 2010, while Suzanne got hitched to baseball rehabilitation coach Saito Kazumi (34) just last month.