Kotaro Kiyomiya’s lofty goals include winning an Olympic gold medal, playing in the major leagues and breaking the most hallowed record in Japanese professional baseball.

Just as long as no haunted stadiums or spooky batting cages are involved.

“I hate ghosts,” the 18-year-old said with a smile. “I absolutely won’t go to a haunted house.”

Kiyomiya’s record-setting 111 home runs during his three years at senior high school made him the most sought-after player in last year’s Nippon Professional Baseball draft.

He ended up signing with the Nippon-Ham Fighters, bringing a dangerous bat and a carefree attitude to the Sapporo-based team in the Pacific League.

When asked about his favorite phrase, he quickly answered, “It’s probably, ‘Go! Go! Go!’”

In his senior year at Tokyo’s Waseda Jitsugyo High School, Kiyomiya, as captain of the baseball team, proposed the phrase as its slogan. It carried the message that team members should never give up and always remain positive.

“Yes, that’s it,” Kiyomiya said. “That will be it for the rest of my life. I wasn’t quite thinking that far ahead when I picked it up, but I have come to realize that it’s a nice phrase.”

In September, when he announced that he was turning pro, Kiyomiya said his goal was to shatter the NPB record of 868 career home runs set by Sadaharu Oh, who happens to be another Waseda Jitsugyo High School alumnus.

Kiyomiya also wants to participate in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games and eventually swing his bat for a major league team.

“I wish to stay in the forefront of my contemporaries,” he said. “That will all probably depend on how well I do in the years to come.”

In his early years, rugby, not baseball, was Kiyomiya’s sport of choice. His father, Katsuyuki, a well-known rugby player and coach, now serves as head coach of Yamaha Motor Jubilo rugby team based in Iwata, Shizuoka Prefecture.

In 2006, Kiyomiya was a first-grader at Waseda Jitsugyo Elementary School while Yuki Saito, who now plays for the Nippon-Ham Fighters, was the ace on Waseda Jitsugyo High School’s team.

In the annual national high school baseball tournament that summer, Waseda Jitsugyo, led by Saito, took the championship by defeating Komazawa University Tomakomai High School of Hokkaido in a rare rematch of the final game.

The young Kiyomiya was one of 50,000 spectators at the final game at Koshien Stadium in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture. He was enthralled.

He began playing baseball in the winter of his second year. Two winters later, he withdrew from rugby to concentrate solely on baseball.

“I was told, ‘Why not try baseball?’” Kiyomiya said, recalling a conversation he had with his father. “I was like, ‘If I cannot become a great player, then I can always fall back on rugby.’”

Although he said he feels pressure to succeed, it is no match for the pure fun of playing the game.

“It all started when I was playing in my childhood,” Kiyomiya said. “I believe I am still doing an extension of that, so having fun remains my point of reference.”