Meet Eleazar, the Singaporean Who Quit The RSAF to Play Pro Baseball in Japan
In ‘Singaporeans Abroad’, we share with you the stories of locals who—thanks to living in a globalised world—have found success in different corners of the globe, whether financially, romantically, or for the pure joy of adventure.
We recently heard from Danelle Tan, a footballer who gave up a college scholarship to chase her sporting dreams in Dortmund, Germany. Then, there was Kai Lim, who started his own business in the Big Apple selling Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) gummies. 
Now, we bring you Eleazar Ng, a Singaporean pitcher who left the RSAF and moved to Japan to play professional baseball.

All images courtesy of Eleazar Ng

I remember the first time I stepped onto a baseball field—a proper one, since the Singapore Men’s Baseball team trains on a softball pitch. I was 18 and at my first baseball tournament in Hong Kong. I was shocked at how big it was. It was a little overwhelming, to be honest.

Now, at the age of 24, I’m playing on big baseball fields all the time after signing a season-long contract with Saga Indonesia Dreams in Ureshino, Japan. I’m playing with the best of the best from Southeast and South Asia. It’s electric. 

Sometimes, I think about what I gave up to come here. I was a regular in the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF). I’d just balloted successfully for a BTO (Build-to-Order) flat with my girlfriend. I’d started my journey on this so-called ‘Singaporean Dream’ that everyone wants to walk. 

But I had to play in the big leagues. I have this bigger dream for Singapore: I want to grow our local scene and create a pathway to going pro in baseball for all the young hopefuls. 

Baseball Beginnings

I was seven when I first picked up a bat. I started with softball back in Maris Stella High School since baseball isn’t a Co-Curricular Activity (CCA) in most schools. The funny thing is, I didn’t even pick softball for myself. My older sisters picked it for me because they thought it sounded cool.

You can say that I’m the baby of the family—my three sisters are 31, 30, and 28 years old respectively. We grew up doing sports together: swimming, badminton, cross-country and more.

Honestly, they helped raise me. My sisters guide me about my big life decisions more than my parents. So deferring my CCA choice to them was only natural. 

There isn’t a big reason why I continued playing softball. I honestly kept at it because it was a habit, and because I was good at it. And it was useful in the long run. I used softball to apply for DSA (Direct School Admission) into Catholic High Secondary School. 

If you were to ask me about my grades back in school, I’d say they could be better. It didn’t help that all I did was play softball all day. But, secondary school is where I really started to appreciate the sport. The community I had and the friendships I made back then are things I still treasure today.

When I was 16, I was offered to join a national Under-18 Softball team. I jumped at the chance, and the following year, I went for my first international championship. Unfortunately, our team was discontinued.

My first Softball International Championship in 2017

But I was determined to continue playing ball. I had my first taste at representing Singapore on the international stage. And even though I never imagined myself being a professional athlete, the experience was enough to excite me.

And just as my softball career hit a snag, another proverbial door opened—our Singapore men’s baseball squad was opening up tryouts. I decided to give it a shot.  

I thought my adjustment from softball to baseball went well… until I stepped on a full-sized baseball field for the first time. It was crazy big. Baseball’s so much more demanding physically than softball: I had to throw harder and run faster. But the challenge was thrilling. 

Funnily enough, my girlfriend’s also into baseball. We’re both into K-Pop, and when idols throw the opening pitch at games in Korea, we get excited. Some of our dates include me teaching her how to throw at a nearby park. When we went to Taiwan for a holiday, we went to a batting cage and she nailed it. 

It felt like I had it all. Hanging out with my sisters. Planning for a future together with my girlfriend.


With my friends in the Air Force

At the time, the current coach for Saga Indonesia Dreams was looking for players. He has a close relationship with the Singaporean team’s head coach. After my performance, my name was floated as a potential addition to the team.

Saga Indonesia Dreams is something you wouldn’t come by often. It’s a Japan-based team that’s mainly made up of Southeast and South Asian players trying to showcase what our region can do in the baseball scene. Anyone would be honoured to be considered for such a special team. 

But, to be honest, my first reaction was Hah? I’d literally just signed on to the RSAF. I couldn’t give that up so easily. 

But I kept thinking about it. And eventually, the opportunity came up again. 

Last year in May, the Singapore team competed in the East Asian Cup where we dominated Thailand 10-0. That was monumental— it was the first time we’d scored a victory over Thailand in so long, and it was such a huge margin too! I’d even won another award for ‘Pitcher with Best Earned Run Average’.

Posing with my award at the 2023 East Asian Cup

I never thought that would happen. And I’m glad I managed to make history with the brothers I’ve trained with day and night for this pinnacle moment for Singapore baseball.

After the tournament, another player from the Philippines spoke to me. He told me he was going to Japan to play for Saga Indonesia Dreams. He kept telling me: “Bro, just go for it.” 

He’s my roommate now. Thanks, Paulo. 

I started to get excited. What if I actually could pursue baseball fulltime? I told myself, YOLO. I just told my coach, “Okay, I’m going to Japan.” 

That’s not to say it wasn’t a difficult decision. I had real considerations: my job security, money, my future.

Not to be typically Singaporean, but I was most worried about my BTO. My girlfriend and I were lucky enough to get a flat in a prime location. It costs a lot of money; I could afford it on my previous salary, but moving to Japan would entail a pay cut. 

Of course, my girlfriend was supportive of my baseball dreams. She told me to go and that we’d figure it out later.

But my sisters were the ones who really convinced me to take the leap. They told me to look beyond the rigid life in Singapore. The world has so much more to offer, and when I come back, I’ll have so much to offer Singapore. And I just kept thinking about this dream that I have: to inspire kids here to pick up a baseball bat and play.

So I left for Ureshino in April. 

Batter(ed) Up

Gone are the days of nighttime training. We start bright and early in Japan.

A typical day for me starts at 6 AM. We start cleaning after we wake up. Since the team lives together under the same roof, we divide the chores equally. 

We clean the kitchen, throw out the trash, clean our team’s bus and so on. After we’re all done cleaning, we make breakfast. Some of us pack little bentos and onigiris for lunch.

Eleazar playing baseball

Our bus leaves at around 8 AM. We go to the baseball field early and set up. We warm up and train till 2 PM. We’re usually back in the dorm by 3-ish. After training, I like to do my laundry, shower, and hang out with the guys. Sometimes, we go to the supermarket together and stock up on groceries. It’s all very domestic.

We’ve really ramped up the training since I first came. We’re now training six days a week. Our coach is really zero-ing on how our team plays so that we can win a game. 

We’re working on our team synergy since Saga Indonesia Dreams is so diverse. We’ve got Indonesians, Sri Lankans, Filipinos, and even some Japanese players. I’m the only one representing Singapore, though. 

I’m also a pitcher, and there’s a saying about us: a pitcher controls 90 percent of the game. A lot of people are relying on you to hold the opponent down, which means there’s a lot of eyes on you. 

That pressure kept me hooked. I’m the type of guy that wants to be reliable and dependable, and there’s an undeniable adrenaline rush when you achieve for your team.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Eleazar Ng (@_eleazarng_)

But has my love for baseball changed since coming to Japan? I would be lying if I said no. 

Being a full-time professional athlete is unstable. Players can get cut because they aren’t performing up to standard—some of my teammates got cut recently and they went back to their home countries. That instability is such a big contrast to my life back in Singapore.

The first month in Ureshino was admittedly hard. I wasn’t performing well, and as a professional athlete, your expectations for yourself are naturally higher. But I kept telling myself I’d bounce back.

The second month was even harder. My performance wasn’t getting better. My playing time on the field started to drop, so I wasn’t deployed as much. I felt so much anxiety. What if I didn’t get any better? What if I got cut? Would this all be for nothing?

The pressure can really get to you—I’m the only Singaporean here. I’m the only Singaporean to get a professional contract like this in baseball history. Articles about me started to come out, and I knew people back home were rooting for me. I didn’t want to disappoint them.

I had a closed-door meeting with my coaches, and just fully broke down. I told them about how I felt: the pressure, the loneliness, the anxiety, all of it. It was cathartic to be honest about how difficult being a pro athlete is, especially to people who understand first-hand. 

My coaches and the team staff were so supportive and reassuring. My teammates, who are all here for the same dream, motivated me to continue. With all the encouragement, I managed to get back on my feet. 

I can confidently say Eleazar Ng is back, better than ever.

And it helps that our team’s performing better. Our first ever game? Miyazaki Sunshines, another regional baseball team, demolished us 17-0. We really didn’t know who we were up against at the time. 

But we’re finding our groove. Our second game against the Miyazaki Sunshines was way closer. We actually took the lead the first six innings, and we narrowly lost 7-9. It wasn’t demoralising; in fact, we felt energised to fight even harder next time.

My personal goal is to throw 140km/h. Pro pitchers usually throw around 145-150 km/h, but there are a lot of factors that go into pitching. It’s about your mentality, your physical condition, your mechanics and so much more. 

I’m pitching at 133 km/h, and while 7km/h doesn’t sound like a big difference, it’s going to be a Herculean task to improve my speed.

Eleazar playing baseball

Catch No Ball

With a team as diverse as ours, there’s bound to be a language barrier. But that hasn’t stopped us from bonding with each other.

Since our coach is Japanese, our team meetings in the morning are in Japanese. Even though most of us catch no ball (haha) with Japanese, our team captain’s pretty fluent. 

So we play a game of language telephone: My coach briefs us in Japanese. My team captain translates it into Bahasa Indonesia for the Indonesian players. After that, one of them translates it into English for me and the Filipino players. 

And as cheesy as it sounds, we’re bonding over the universal language of music. On the bus, we’re always playing different songs: Sinhalese, Bahasa, Tagalog. I even introduced my teammates to Mandopop (which they seem to really like!)

It reminds me of what I love most about baseball. The sport requires you to rely on all your teammates, and it creates a really deep friendship and camaraderie. Day in and day out, you’re training with 40-over people to achieve this one goal of winning.

And the brotherhood’s only stronger with Saga Indonesia Dreams. Most of us moved from Southeast Asia to Japan to leverage on a major baseball scene. We want to learn as much as we can and make this team work so we can uplift Southeast Asian baseball. 

The people of Saga show up for us too. Our first game was completely sold out— something I’ve honestly never experienced back home. Before every game, the locals set up a Japanese version of a Pasar Malam around the stadium. There are performances done by the kids, sports and games, and food stalls.

Japan’s sports culture has a huge focus on community: they support us, and in turn, we contribute back. We’re always organising some kind of community event to bring everyone together. Sometimes we’re there as bouncers or security guards— stuff you don’t really expect a professional athlete to do.

A little known fact about me is that I’m a DJ. I started way back in my Polytechnic days. During one of our community events, there was a DJ mixer on the stage. I was just itching to play with it, so I begged my coach to let me DJ. 

He let me do it. And watching my teammates, the kids, and the locals partying to my mix was really awesome. It made me wonder if I could bring this joy to Singapore too. 

Home Base

During training the other day, I started craving Chai Tow Kway. I don’t even like it that much. I’m just starting to miss the comforts of home. And even though we’ve been going strong despite the long distance relationship, I still miss my girlfriend’s presence.  

Eleazar at a baseball event
At a baseball community event in Saga Prefecture

But I know it’s not time for me to leave yet. I’m really considering staying for another season. Partly because I love the team, but also because I want to learn as much as I can about Japan’s baseball scene and bring it back here.

I hope one day Singapore will have a big baseball stadium. I want to set up my own academy and train young baseball players. More than that, I want to use baseball to bring a community together. I can imagine a Singapore where families bring their kids down to the big baseball field on the weekends. 

So I’ll be back soon, Singapore. I’ll come back a better athlete, a better coach, and with a bunch of crazy ideas to pitch.

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