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2009 Hall of Famers Elected
This was the second election held under the new Rules of Election which were stipulated in June, 2007.
The Players Selection Committee elected Tsutomu Wakamatsu out of 30 eligible candidates in the Players Division prepared by the Screening Committee. The Screening Committee also prepared 10 eligible candidates in the Experts Division, and the PSC elected Noboru Aota as a successful candidate.
The Special Selection Committee elected two successful candidate out of 10 eligible candidates prepared by the Screening Committee. The successful candidates were Yoshinori Ohkoso and Ichiro Kimijima. The membership of the Baseball Hall of Fame is now 168, including 35 living Hall of Famers.

"WAKAMATSU, Tsutomu"

Born in Hokkaido on April 17, 1947.

Graduating from Hokkai High School, he played for the Hokkaido Branch of Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Public Corporation (now NTT) before joining the Yakult Swallows in 1971. Hitting .303 in his first year (though under regular AT), he won the batting title in his 2nd year (1972) by hitting .329. “Little Great Hitter” was a contact hitter and hit .300 or more 12 times in his 19 years with the Yakult Swallows, appearing in the Batting Top Ten 12 times. In 1978, he carried the team to the first victory in the Central League by hitting .341 BA, 17 home runs and 71 RBI and won the MVP.

After retiring in 1989, he coached the farm team of the Yakult Swallows (1993-4), managed it (1995-6), and coached the Yakult Swallows (1997-8). Succeeding Katsuya Nomura (1989 Hall of Famer), he managed the Yakult Swallows from 1999 to 2005. He led the team to victory in the Japan Series in 2001 and was won the Shoriki Award.

He threw right and batted left.
His career record as player: 2,062 G, 6,808 AB, 2,173 H, 884 RBI, 220 HR, .319 BA (the best as a Japanese player), batting champion twice (1972, 77), most hits once (1977), MVP once (1978), Golden Glove twice (1977-8), 8 sayonara home runs (the best in the C.L.) and 2 back-to-back home runs (1977/6/12~13). He was selected into the Best Nine Team 9 times (1972-4, 76-80, 84) and into All-Stars 11 times. He hit for the cycle once on July 9, 1976.

His career record as manager: 975 G, 496 W, 461 L, 18 ties and .518 WA.

"AOTA, Noboru"

Born in Hyogo Prefecture on November 22, 1924 and died on November 4, 1997.

At Takigawa Middle School (1940-42), he was instructed by Manager Hachiro Maekawa,former pitcher of the Tokyo Giants. In the spring of 1941, he participated in the National Middle School Baseball Championship with pitcher Takehiko Bessho (1979 Hall of Famer). A sudden cessation of NMSBC in summer (due to the war) deprived him of his long-cherished dream. In June, 1942, he joined the Tokyo Giants. The young outfielder contributed to the victory of the team by hitting .355. In 1943 he elected to join the services.

Back to pro baseball in 1946, he played for the Hankyu Braves for two years. Rejoining the Tokyo Giants in 1948, the powerful batter nicknamed “jaja-uma,” or restive horse, competed with Makoto Kozuru (1980 Hall of Famer) and Kazuto Tsuruoka (1965 Hall of Famer) and won batting champion by a close margin at the end of the season and with Tetsuharu Kawakami (1965 Hall of Famer) for home runs (both hitting 25).

After playing an active part as a leading home run batter for the Giants until 1952, he moved to The Taiyo Whales (1953-58) and then to the Hankyu Braves (1959).

His ability as a strategic coach and a mentor for young players was exemplified when he led the Hanshin Tigers (1962-63) to the pennant in 1962 under skipper Sadayoshi Fujimoto (1974 Hall of Famer) and the Hankyu Braves (1965-67) in 1967 under skipper Yukio Nishimoto (1988 Hall of Famer). He also coached the Taiyo Whales in 1972. He threw and hit right.

His career record as player: 1,709 G, 6,566 AB. 1827 H, 265 HR, 1,034 RBI, .278 BA., batting champion once (1948), most home runs 5 times (1948, 51, 54, 56-57), most RBI 2 times (1943, 51), most hits once (1948). He was elected into the Best Nine 5 times and entered the East-West All-Stars 4 times and All-Stars 6 times. He hit for the cycle on April 23, 1953 and hit the first 4 successive home runs at bat on May 6, 1956. His career record as manager: 147 G, 61 W, 78 L, 8 ties with .439 WA.

"OHKOSO, Yoshinori"

Born in Kagawa Prefecture on February 1, 1915, and died April 27, 2005.

After graduating from Takamatsu Higher Commercial School (now Kagawa University), he set up a meat processing company in Tokushima City in 1942 and reorganized it as Tokushima Ham Corporation in 1951. In 1963, it merged with Torishin Ham and named its trade name as Nippon Ham. It was around this time that its workers and staff began to be keen on advancing their publicity. He himself was thinking of involving in sports world not only as a means of promotion but for the prosperity of pro baseball in Japan. He got an advice from Osamu Mihara (1983 Hall of Famer), his senior by three years at Takamatsu Middle School and in 1973 he purchased the Nittaku Home Flyers and renamed it as Nippon Ham Fighters and appointed Mihara as its president.

As an ardent lover of pro baseball, he tried as much as possible to watch their games at their franchise (i.e., Tokyo Dome) and was famously devoted to running his club as enthusiastically as Kohei Matsuda (2003 Hall of Famer), owner of the Hiroshima Toyo Carp. He was obliged to resign his post as the first owner of the Nippon Ham Fighters in 2002, but when his club moved to Sapporo as Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, he went all the way, in his wheelchair, to the new franchise to watch their opening game.

In 1973, he was awarded Blue Ribbon Medal and in 1988 the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star.

"KIMIJIMA, Ichiro"

He was born in Tochigi Prefecture on April 16, 1887 and died on April 25, 1975.

At Ikko (i.e., the First High School) in 1907 and 1908, he was the second baseman succeeding to Takeji Nakano (1972 Hall of Famer), his senior by two years, and played with its rivaling teams ~ Sanko (i.e., the Third High School), Waseda Univesity and Keio Gijuku University. He went on to Tokyo University and, entering the Bank of Japan in 1912, he held important positions as inspector, examiner, head of branch offices and director of official documents. He served as vice president of the Bank of Korea from 1940 to 1945. After WWII, he was purged from public office from 1947 to 1951, but when the purge was lifted, he became president of the Association of Friendly Nations and later he was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star.

For years he was intent on searching the beginnings of baseball in Japan and it took him some 20 years to collect materials necessary to publish his findings. In January, 1971, he wrote an article in No.710 of the Bulletin of Gakushikai (alumni association of the graduates of nine former Imperial Universities), “The birthplace of baseball in Japan—it was here at the site of the Gakushi Hall,” and in October, 1971, he wrote a succeeding article in No.713 of the same magazine, entitled, “Various views on when and where baseball was first introduced to Japan,” in which he minutely compared several possible venues; 1)at a temporal school in Tokyo for pioneers in Hokkaido, 2) Shimbashi in Tokyo where Hiroshi Hiraoka (one of the first nine Hall of Famers) worked, 3) a Western school in Kumamoto, and 4) the naval academy in Tokyo, and 5) others. What was epoch-making in his theory was not that he pinpointed the site and the year in which baseball was played for the first time in Japan, but that he moved up the year by one year from long-held 1873 to 1872, which is now generally accepted, backed up mainly with the pioneering works by the late Saburo Saito.

In 1972, at the age of as old as 85, he published “Genesis of Baseball in Japan, ” based on the above two articles and adding an early history of Ikko, the pioneer of baseball in Japan(Baseball Magazine Co.).

 

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