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|Articles in NEWSLETTER, Vol.15, No.4
2006 Hall of Famers Elected
Fumio Kobayashi President
The Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, which was founded in 1959 to honor baseball greats
who have made a great contribution to the development of baseball in Japan, announced its
Hall of Famers for 2006 on Tuesday, January 10, 2006.
The Selection Committee for Players met on Thursday, January 5, and confirmed on counting
the 290 ballots sent in from its members that Hiromitsu Kadota, former Nankai Hawks outfielder,
Morimichi Takagi, former Chunichi Dragons infielder, and Hisashi Yamada, former Hankyu Braves pitcher were duly elected. Meanwhile, the Special Selection Committee met on Friday, January 6,
and elected former Commissioner Hiromori Kawashima and Yasumitsu Toyoda, former Nishitetsu Lions infielder as the successful candidates. The total number of the Hall of Famers is now 159.
The announcement of the 2006 inductees was made at a press conference at the Baseball Hall of Fame at 3 p.m. with a brief explanation on the results of the election by each representative of the two selection committees. The new Hall of Famers were given a certificate of their induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame from the two managing directors on behalf of the Chairman of the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum who made the opening speech.
Kadota, who headed the acceptance speech, said, “To get an honor like this preceding many seniors, I feel I am walking on air.” “I am overcome with emotion,” Takagi said. “I owe what I am to many
people in baseball world. I will do my best to repay their service.” Yamada was also thankful to them. “I was supported by a lot of people along the way. I thinkIam now in a position to support others.” Kawashima, who served as Central League president for 14 years and as Commissioner for 6 years, recollects, “Of all I did as the head of pro baseball, I am proud that I tried to bring about a rapprochement with the MLB.” Lastly the former aggressive shortstop Toyoda said, “I am the 6th inductee from the Nishitetsu Lions but the 1st in the other category. It may be due to my baseball commentary work after retirement that I was honored.”
The press conference ended with congratulatory speeches by five guest speakers: Masaichi Kaneda, 89th Hall of Famer, on Kadota; Shigeru Sugishita, 77th Hall of Famer, on Takagi; Toshiharu Ueda, 145th Hall of Famer, on Yamada; Haruo Wakimura, president of the Japan High School Baseball
Federation, on Kawashima who sought a thaw in the long feud with amateur baseball; Daigo Tamura, representative of the SSP, on Toyoda.
The Induction Ceremony will take place on Friday, July 21, at Jingu Stadium, when the first game
of the All-Star Games is to be held.
Photo above: ( Left to right) Toyoda, Wakimura, Kawashima, Ueda, Yamada, Sugishita, Takagi, Kaneda, and Kadota.
Photo below: ( Left to right) In the back row: Hajime Toyokura, president of the Central League and managing director of BHFM; Yasuchika Negoro, Commissioner and Chairman of BHFM; Tadao Koike, president of the Pacific League and managing director of BHFM.
In the front row: Toyoda, Kawashima, Yamada, Takagi and Kadota.
Inductees by the Selection Committee for Players
Teruaki Yonetani, Representative of the SCP
Electors eligible to vote for election to the BHF by the SCP are those members who have an experience of reporting baseball for 15 years or more. The present membership is 298.
Eligible candidates are those players, coaches, managers and umpires who have been ceased to be active in their respective careers at least five (5) years preceding the election.The election comes to effect when two thirds or more of the total ballots are valid. Electors may vote for at most ten (10) eligible candidates deemed worthy of election.
Any candidate receiving votes on seventy-five percent (75%) of the valid ballots shall be elected
to the membership in the Baseball Hall of Fame. This year the total number of the valid ballots was 290. Kadota (238), Takagi (230) and Yamada (223) received the necessary number of ballots (218) for election.
Anecdotes and Records
Tears stood in Kadota’s eyes when he arrived, “Unlike at other award ceremonies, I’m very excited. Though I’m poor in shape, I feel I am walking on air.” His chronic diabetes had worsened, and he was hospitalized by a cerebral infarction last year. Hearing that he was elected to the Hall of Fame, however, he hastened his way to Tokyo straight away. Shuffling back to the ceremony, he said,
“I have to be healthy again.” Meeting his old rivaling players, he was rekindled with eagerness to do something for the active players who seem to be inattentive to improved ability. With his splendid performance in his days, he is expected to come back as a leader.
“KADOTA, Hiromitsu” 155th Hall of Famer
Born in Yamaguchi Prefecture on February 26, 1948.
Graduating from Tenri High School, he played for four years for a non-pro team in Okayama (1966-69). In 1971, his 2nd year at the Nankai Hawks, he batted third and achieved a splendid record:.300 BA, 31 HR, and 120 RBI (1st in the P.L.) Though the powerful hitter was sidelined with a severed Achilles tendon in 1979, he made a comeback in 1980 with 41 HR and in the following year he was a co-leader in home runs with 44. He was the solo leader in HR in 1983 with 40. His best year was 1988 when he appeared in all of the games batting .311 and led the P.L. in RBI (125) and HR (44). This was the best performance for a player aged 40 or more, and he deservedly won the MVP and the Shoriki Award. He also played for the Orix BlueWave (1989-90) and the Daiei Hawks (1991-92).
His career record: 23 seasons (outfielder, DH), 2,571 games, 8,868 AB, 2,566 H, 1,678 RBI, 567 HR (the 3rd in career record, following Oh and Nomura), and .289 BA. He has the P.L. record in most career BB (1,273), most season bases-loaded HR (4; 1983) and most BB in a game (5; 1988), and led in OBA in 1981, '87, and ‘88. He appeared 14 times in the All-Star Games and 7 times in the Best Nine and 8 times in the Top Ten in BA. He throws and bats left.
Takagi was famous for his reticence in and concentration to games. He smiled sometimes and told
about his playing days. “My idiosyncracies are inevitable countermeasures to such a showy player as Shigeo Nagashima, third baseman of the Yomiuri Giants. I did a fine play as casually as possible.” Backhand toss was his unrivalled specialty which attracted fans as much as Nagashima’s showy fielding. It took him time to master his unusual way of fielding, but he managed to complete it against the advice given by his manager Shigeru Mizuhara.
"TAKAGI, Morimichi" 156th Hall of Famer
Born in Nagoya on July 17, 1941.
The excellent second baseman at Gifu Commercial High School, distinguished for its record in the classic tournaments at Koshien Stadium, proved to be a triple-threat player even in pro baseball. Though he did not have that flamboyance catering to the spectators at large, his exquisitely polished fielding at second base and reliable batting was highly appreciated. Ever since he joined the Chunichi Dragons in 1960, he was famous for his impeccable defense at the keystone. He retired in 1980 and coached the team and its reserves for six years. After a few years as a commentator, he took the helm of the Chunichi Dragons in 1992, but had to quit the job early in the season of 1995.
His career record as a player: 21 seasons, 2,282 games, 8,367 AB, 2,274 H, 813 RBI, 236 HR, .272 BA. He led the C.L. in SB in 1963, ’65 and ’73. His memorable feat, 4 consecutive HR spanning 3 games in 1977, is still the Japan’s record. He appeared 4 times in the All-Star Games. He was 6 times in the Top Ten of BA and 7 times in the Best Nine. He throws and bats right.
His career record as a manager: 5 seasons, 499 games, 244 W, 249 L, 6 ties, with .495 WP.
Yamada is not second to Takagi in his unyielding spirit. The underhanded pitcher made a head-on fight with his 90–mile speedballs against batters. Defiance was admittedly his sole weapon. “One pitch took me a peg or two.” Yamada said recalling a decisive game in the 1971 Japan Series with the Yomiuri Giants. It was his 3rd year, and the Hankyu Braves were leading the 3rd game until two downs in the bottom of the 9th inning. Sadaharu Oh came up to the plate and hit a three-run home run which turned the game around. “It was too big a price, but I learned a grueling rigor of pro baseball by that fateful pitch.”
"YAMADA, Hisashi" 157th Hall of Famer
Born in Noshiro City in Akita Prefecture on July 29, 1948.
After graduating from Noshiro High School, he pitched for a non-pro team in Iwate Prefecture for a few years. In 1969 he joined the Hankyu Braves as the first choice of the draft. In 1970 he notched 10 wins and ever since the formidable submarine pitcher was the mainstay of the then dominant Braves, as was proved by his 10 or more wins for 17 consecutive years and winning MVP for 3 consecutive years (1976, ’77, ’78). Also included in his splendid pitching in the 70s are: best WP in 1971, ’76, ’78, ’79, best ER in 1971, ’77, most wins in 1972, ’76 (26 W), and ’79. He retired in 1988 and coached the team for three years (1994-96). After coaching the Chunichi Dragons for three years (1999-2001), he managed the same team for two years (2002-03).
His career record as a player: 20 seasons, 654 games, 284 W, 166 L, 3,865 IP, 2,058 SO, 3.18 ERA. He was 14 times in the Top Ten of ERA, 5 times in the Best Nine, won the Golden Glove 5 times and appeared 13 times in the All-Star Games. He throws and bats right.
His career record as a manager: 2 seasons, 260 games, 128 W, 127 L, 5 ties with .502 WP
Inductees by the Special Selection Committee
Daigo Tamura, Representative of the SSC
The Special Selection Committee met in Tokyo Dome Hotel on Friday, attended by 13 of its
14 members. Their first duty was to confirm the list of eligible candidates. Four candidates
including Masanori Shimura, the only successful candidate of 2005, were deleted and four new
candidates were added to the list. The electors made an open vote with plural entry on 14
eligible candidates. As a result, Hiromori Kawashima (12) and Yasumitsu Toyoda (12) received
votes on 75 % or more of the ballots cast and were elected to the membership in the Hall of Fame.
"KAWASHIMA, Hiromori" 158th Hall of Famer
Born in Fukushima Prefecture on February 27, 1922.
Graduating from the faculty of law at Chuo University in 1942, he entered the Ministry of Home Affairs. After 1967, he successively held various posts, culminating in the Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary of the Tanaka Cabinet in 1973. On retirement, he became president of the Railway Construction Public Corporation in 1979. In 1984, he became the 4th president of the Central League and was in office for 14 years. In 1998, he succeeded to Ichiro Yoshikuni as the 10th Commissioner and served for two terms until 2004.
As early as in 1988, he took the initiative in revising the Japan-U.S Baseball Agreement. He tried to strengthen the ties between the NPB and the MLB and in the March of 2000 he succeeded in having the opening games of the MLB held in Japan. He had been keen on establishing a long-awaited cooperative relationship between pro baseball and amateur baseball, as was witnessed by his attendance at the opening ceremony of the National Invitational High School Baseball Tournament in 2003. He also helped hold a symposium, “Beyond the dream,” in which pro players and high school players participated. His signing of “A memorandum on the selection of rookies,” exchanged between the NPB and the Japan High School Baseball Federation in 2004, has greatly helped accelerate the thaw in the long feud between pro baseball and amateur baseball in Japan.
Admittedly Toyoda should have been elected by the Selection Committee for Players like his colleagues in the Nishitetsu Lions Dynasty in the latter part of 1950s---Osamu Mihara, Hiroshi Oshita, Akira Ohgi, Futoshi Nakanishi and Kazuhisa Inao. Though he could not refrain from referring to it in a wry way in his speech, he expressed his joy of being recognized as a severe but popular commentator after retirement.
"TOYODA, Yasumitsu" 159th Hall of Famer
Born in Ibaraki Prefecture on February 12, 1935.
On graduating from Mito Commercial High School in 1953, he joined the Nishitetsu Lions and secured himself the regular shortstop. His first year’s record was .281 BA and 27 HR, exceptionally good for a new high school graduate. His home run record as a high school rookie was to be broken as late as in 1986 when Kiyohara (Seibu Lions) belted 31 home runs. He contributed greatly to the three successive victories of the Nishitetsu Lions in the Japan Series (1956-58) by batting second, followed by Hiroshi Oshita and Futoshi Nakanishi (thus forming a formidable batting trio).
After playing for the Nishitetsu Lions for 10 years, he transferred to the Kokutetsu Swallows in 1963 and played there (the team’s name underwent changes afterwards) for 7 years. During these 17 years when he was in active competition, he was always a good clutch hitter in a decisive game.
After coaching the Kintetsu Buffaloes for a year (1972), his retired life has been occupied by writing for newspapers & magazines, and giving commentary on TV and radio. Last but not least, he is an ardent member of a society which has been campaigning to help grow aodamo used to make bats.
His career record: 17 seasons (infielder), 1,814 games, 6,137 AB, 1,699 H., 263 HR, 888 RBI and .277 BA. Rookie of the year 1953. Batting champion in 1956.He was 6 times in the Best Nine and appeared 9 times in the All-Star Games.He throws and bats right.
Column: Many to See, Much to Enjoy (17)
Pleasure of visiting baseball museums in America.
Akira Matsubara, Supporter of the Baseball Museum
What impressed me most while going around the U.S. was that every museum and sports hall of fame pays a special attention to the education of the local young people. I will give the readers several examples.
At Oklahoma Sports Museum (Guthrie, OK), legendary players take turns every week to speak
about baseball to children there. The theatre in the oval open space runs a video advising young
people not to drink or smoke. Oregon Sports Hall of Fame (Portland, OR) aims to let children
enjoy and learn the spirit of sports. The Sports Hall of Fame in Maycon, Georgia, looks too good to be an education facility for high school students in Georgia. They can trace the footsteps of local legendary people by exhibits there. “There is a wide future open to you!.”
The Hall of Champions (Balboa Park, San Diego) is in a vast park dotted with a zoo and museums. There is a hands-on corner and a special clerk in charge gives an extensive guidance to young visitors New England Sports Hall of Fame (Fleet Center, Boston) is the franchises of the Celtics (NBA) and the Bruins (NHL). The three big pro sports in Boston, baseball, basketball and hockey, are introduced on the walls in the vast concourse on the 5th and 6th floors. Spectators can enjoy the exhibits and learn about the great players. The life-sized wax figure of Ted Williams is a must for a Boston Red Sox fan. Continental Air Line Arena (Meadowlands Sports Complex, NJ) displays photos of famous New Jersey athletes on the wall at the ticket office.
Another feature at halls of fame, baseball stadiums and museums is a bronze statue of a great baseball player. Willie McCovey at SBC Park at San Francisco, Mickey Mantle and Johnny Bench at Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City, Carl Ripken at Ripken Museum are all splendid. What I like best is a bronze statue of the young Babe Ruth with a glove in right hand and a bat in left standing at the exit of Oriole Park at Camden Yards. To add, I enjoyed visiting newly-opened (2005) Sports Legends which stands adjacent to the stadium.
Inductees Remembered (10)
Recollection of my dear father
Haruhiko Nakajima, eldest son of the 16th Hall of Famer, Haruyasu Nakajima
The winner of the first triple crown in pro baseball suddenly came under the spot when Katsuya
Nomura (Nankai Hawks) clinched the coveted title in 1965. My father achieved the record in the fall season of 1938 but his achievement had long been neglected as it was a feat in the 2-season
system in the pre-war days. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1963 but he did not take it a gala occasion. All he did was to invite his family and a few relatives to dinner to celebrate his induction. Once Nomura achieved the feat, my father’s record came to be widely cited for comparison: 136 games, 42 HR, 110 RBI, and .320 BA vs 38 games, 10 HR, 38 RBI, and .361 BA. But he kept himself aloof from the controversy ensued.
I have not seen him in uniform as I was born in February, 1947. He was then manager of the Tokyo Giants. When the present 2-league system started in 1950, he was invited to the Taiyo Whales as
a playing manager, but he quit the job after the 1951 season. I remember that he made me a uniform with his number 3 on the back.
A year after he died, Mr.Takemiya told me why my father retired rather early from pro baseball.
He had caught for the Giants and transferred to the Taiyo Whales with my father and at that time he was the superintendent of the Giants dormitory. “He quit because you were born. He used to say he wanted to spend much time with his family.” Immediately after the war, many games were held away from town and once on the road, players were unable to return home for about a month. He decided to give priority to his family life.
His new job was to write about games of the Tokyo Big Six University League at Jingu Stadium and of two big high school baseball tournaments at Koshien Stadium. When I was a primary school
pupil, my father often took me with him on Sundays to Jingu Stadium, where I watchied the game from the press box. Even now I vividly remember star players,---Nagashima, Sugiura, Motoyashiki (Rikkyo U.), Miyazaki, Kitazaki (Waseda U.) and Moroki (Keio U.). He always watched the Giants on TV and never failed to shower abuse on bungling players.
He entered Matsumoto Normal School, but in the third year he moved to Matsumoto Commercial School, which he led to victory in the National Middle School Championship Tournament at Koshien Stadium. After retirement from pro baseball, he made it a rule to go back to his alma mater in summer and encouraged the Nine by swinging a fungo bat. Until the end of his life, he was keenly interested in baseball. especially in student baseball. Indeed, he led a happy baseball life.
Rara avis (54)
Photograph of the Garden Party in the precincts of Marquess Ohkuma
Takahiro Sekiguchi, co-curator
Sotaro Suzuki, go-between of U.S.-Japan baseball, has left many valuable photos. Following tone shown on Newsletter 11-1, I will show the readers another which depicts an episode at the time of
the U.S.-Japan baseball competition in 1934. Arriving at Port Yokohama on November 2, the American All-Stars headed by Babe Ruth came up to Tokyo, and on the following day they were
invited by Marquess Nobutsune Ohkuma, president emeritus of Waseda University, to a garden party in his precincts in the center of Tokyo. It was also attended by the members of the All-Japan, headed by Tadao Ichioka, Yoshio Asanuma, co-managers. All of them enjoyed the party, conversing and dining together. The evening edition of the Yomiurrdated November 4 reported the gala party and helped enliven the interest of Japanese people in the coming baseball games.
It was by no accident that Marquess Ohkuma became the first president of Japan Pro Baseball Association in 1936.
News from Baseball Library
Reiko Yamane, Co-librarian
This time books on non-pro baseball sponsored by corporations are being introduced. It is called “shakaijin yakyu” in Japanese and sometimes translated into English as club baseball. It is under the control of Japan Amateur Baseball Association, which publishes annual yearbooks. Many books, magazines, and scrapbooks on this branch of non-pro baseball are available at the Baseball Library, especially the comprehensive “Grand Slam” published by Shogakukan Co.
The other branch of non-pro baseball in Japan is student baseball in universities and high schools.
Monument for the baseball players killed in the last war (1937-1945)
The unveiling ceremony of the monument dedicated to the memory of non-pro baseball players who were killed in the Second World War was held on Monday, November 7 at the Baseball Hall of Fame with the attendance of about 30 people concerned. It was constructed at the 60th anniversary of the end of the war to repose those151 dead players who had participated in the Japan Middle School Baseball Championship at Koshien Stadium and/or University Leagues and/or Inter-City Baseball Championship. The monument, 102 cm X 171 cm, was later placed afterwards at the Amateur Corner of the Baseball Museum.
The epitaph on the monument was inscribed by Nippon Professional Baseball, Japan Amateur Baseball Association, Japan Student Baseball Association and the Baseball Hall of fame and Museum. The ceremony was attended by Tatsuro Matsumae, president of JSBA, Masatake Matsuda, president of JABA, Yuko Hayashi, president of Tokyo Dome and Yasuchika Negoro, Commissioner of NPB and Chairman of BHFM.
News from the Baseball Museum
Obituary Akira Ohgi, 150th Hall of Famer, passed away on December 15, 2005.
Sadao Kondo, 129th Hall of Famer, passed away on January 2, 2006.
Takehiko Baba, former president of the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, passed away on December 7, 2005.
“Children’s Play and baseball”
Through Sunday, February 12, 2006
Children have enjoyed baseball from days past. Not only have they played baseball, but
also they have enjoyed vicarious pleasure by playing karuta (cards), menko (pasteboard dump)
and a shame game with a baseball board. They were enthralled by pictures of their baseball
idols printed on these cards.
On display in the exhibition are playthings enjoyed in good old days (mainly in the Showa Era,
1926-1988) ---sugoroku (Japanese backgammon), karuta, baseball boards, behgoma (shell tops), menko, stills, and baseball cards. Visitors can enjoy playing sugoroku and baseball boards.
New version of Chopsticks made of broken bats with a pet mark of each of the 12 pro baseball teams are available now. They are of different color according to the team. Also available are old ones in black and original kattobashi with the logo of BHFM.(in 3 sizes).
The term “kattobashi” is a portmanteau word: “kattobase” (Slam it outta here!)
+ “hashi” (chopsticks)
The new pair of chopsticks costs ¥1,365 including tax. It is 23.5 cm long. Only one kind for men is available.
Guide to the Baseball Museum
The entrance is located to the right of Gate 21 of Tokyo Dome.
Hours: 10:00-18:00 (March through September)
10:00-17:00 (October through February)
(Visitors are requested to enter at least 30 minutes prior to the closing time.)
Admission: ¥400 (¥300) Adults
¥200 (¥150) Primary & Junior High School students
(* Per person in groups 20 or more)
Closed: Mondays except those 1) during the spring and summer vacations,
2) that fall on National Holidays,
3) when a pro baseball game is held at Tokyo Dome.
N.B. As stated in 1) above, the Museum is open every day March 21
through April 9.
The Asian round ( Preliminary League A) of the first World Baseball Classic is to
be played on March 3, 4 and 5 at Tokyo Dome. A big Hurrah for Japan!
p.8 Essay (23) Amazing fastball
Akira Inoue, Asahi Shimbun, Osaka
One day in July, 2005, spectators at Koshien Stadium were stunned to see pitcher Marc Kroon of the Yokohama Baystars go at a speed of 161 kph. It was the first time the speed of a pitched ball exceeded 160 kph in Japan. A month after that, a ball pitched by a southpaw Tsujiuchi of Osaka Toin High School recorded a speed of 152 kph in a game against Kasukabe Kyouei High School in the National High School Championship at Koshien Stadium.
About 10 years ago, apart from a few exceptional speedballers like Egawa and Matsuzaka, 140 kph
was the average speed of high school speedballers. The appearance of such speedballer like Tsujiuchi may be due to several reasons: a better physique, improved power by muscle training,
and better pitching form. But speed alone does not make a pitching of a ball with stuff on it. Recent batters are equipped with a tireless pitching machine which helps them cope with pitched
balls with a speed of over 140 kph. Pitchers are required to have various breaking balls and exact
control, but they flesh and blood are handicapped compared with pitchers. It may safely be said that
today is the ordeal for pitchers. Some pitchers have found their way to cope with the batter in so-called “2-stage motion pitching,” that is, to stop pitching a moment in the delivery of the ball to the batter. But “the pitch without interruption or alteration” is clearly stipulated by the baseball Rule (8.01 (a)). It has been overlooked in Japanese baseball, but with the increase of international
competitions, it is to be hoped that they comply with the rule.
Anyhow, confrontation of a speedballer with a long hitter is one of the biggest attractions of a baseball game. I still remember how spectators at Nagoya Stadium were excited about 20 years ago to see Tatsuo Komatsu, “a godsent pitcher destined to hurl fastballs,” on the pitcher’s plate stunning the batters with his 150 kph fastballs. I am really looking forward to seeing the speed record renewed this year.