The Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

HOME  >>  Topics  >>  Newsletter


Click the number for further details.

Articles in NEWSLETTER, Vol.16, No.3

p.1   Baseball Museum is keen on improving Information Transmission   
        President Fumio Kobayashi

Our baseball museum boasts of a collection of about 30,000 artifacts and photos, and 2,000 of them are on display throughout the year, either permanently or occasionally, on the principle of showing as many items as possible. The baseball library, on the other hand, contains 50,000 books and magazines. Though it is of closed-stack system, every item is available on written request.

So one of our urgent aims is to give the visitors as easy access as possible to these vast collection of materials at the museum and library. First, not to be overshadowed by the housing outer Tokyo Dome and to be visible from the distance, two of the pillars just in front of our museum, “Welcome Gates,” are designed in black representing power and in red representing passion respectively. The wall of the entrance is embossomed with reliefs of players in action, which helps enhance the expectation of the incoming visitors.

Newly installed at the inside of the entrance is another attraction, the InfoActive (see the photo left) , which shows some sections of the interior of the museum on its 40-inch screen which can be seen through glass from outside, so passersby can tell what is going on in the museum downstairs. Indeed this electronic gadget can convey by photos and letters far more information unimaginable than when static poster columns were commonly used for advertisement.

At the receptionist, the visitors are given a brochure full of information: chronological history of baseball in Japan, photos of typical artifacts on display, names of Hall of Famers, not to speak of the plan of the museum. The 2006 edition has a photo of the iron-armed pitcher Inao (1993 Hall of Famer) on its cover. As a memorable souvenir, “The Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, A Handbook” is available at 1,800yen. It mainly consists of biographies with data of the baseball greats enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Regrettably it is not the Yearbook, but next spring a new edition will be published for the first time in five years. When the visitors get to the Baseball Library, they will be able to obtain the current issue of our quarterly Newsletter. A resume in English is also available.

In such an IT age as today, the website is an important source of information to be transmitted to the prospective visitors. Since our website started in 1998 both in Japanese and English, it has made a geometric progression and in 2005 it enjoyed 3 million page views. It had unusually large number of accesses when the 2006 Hall of Famers were elected and the special exhibition was held in celebration of Japan’s victory in the 2006 WBC. We will continue to offer richer contents for Japanese baseball fans around the world.   
Since August, 2006, we have run the photo archives where 50 items of uniforms,
spikes, gloves (and bats in November) respectively, worn and used by representative Japanese and American pro players, are on display (See the photo right.)

We intend to put more and more items on website so that our coveted items will be enjoyed not only by the actual visitors but by those baseball fans who find it difficult to visit our baseball museum.
p.2  Summer Events at Baseball Museum End in Success

1) Baseball Study by Elementary and Junior High School Students
        Thursday, July 20 through Sunday, September 3, 2006
        At the Baseball Library

Baseball has proved again a rich subject of study for young students who are expected to do their extracurricular study for the summer vacation. Shiki Masaoka’s famous poems on baseball, Japanized baseball terminology during the last war are main topics of study in Japanese. Thus weights and measures in relation to baseball and how to calculate various stats (mathematics), material and behavior of bats and repulsive power of rubber balls (science), history of baseball, vicarious tour to baseball stadiums in Japan and the U.S.and also to bat-making factories, and anthropogeography on countries participating in the WBC 2006 (social studies). At the library young students tried on gloves and took bats and balls in their hands.

Out of about 12,000 visitors to the library, 235 of them stayed and did their study consulting the two librarians. The 4th, 5th and 6th graders comprised 75% of these students. It is to be pointed that there were fewer junior high school students and more 2nd graders compared with last year. Thematically speaking, social science was most popular, particularly a map of the North America with locations of MLB stadiums dotted on it.
The two librarians had an enjoyable time helping young students. The project was surely successful this year, but they are determined to give easier access to lower graders next year.

2) Demonstration of bat making
        Friday, August 11 and 12, 2006
        11:00-12:00, 13:30-14:30, 15:00-16:00
        At the Baseball Hall of Fame

Each time the demonstration was made, a roomful of spectators were at hand keenly watching the process of bat-making. Craftsman Watanabe replied to every question asked by the spectators, mostly young students who intended to report on bat-making as their summer homework. He also told interesting episodes on bat-making.
The annual event was held in cooperation with Mizuno Technics, Co.

3) Hands-on Experience: Producing a Glove by a parent-child team
        13:00-15:00 Sunday, August 13, 2006
        At the Baseball Hall of Fame

12 pairs of elementary school student and his/her parent were selected by lot out of as many as 160 applications. Helped by five craftsmen from Mizuno and Esport Mizuno, the uccessful pairs worked hard for two hours to string their gloves. 
Entry fee of 3,500 yen notwithstanding, it was a great privilege for them to take their product home.

p.3 Inductees Remembered (13)
   Recollection of my father         Shigenori Itami
                                                  First son of Yasuhiro Itami, 1978 HOF

His father was in military service in Zentsuuji in Kagawa prefecture. In his 3rd year at Marugame Middle School, he moved to Saga MS with his father’s transfer there. The new school was military-orientated as it was located in a historically military town and not a few graduates intended to enter military academies. But it was the very place where my father took interest in baseball and would devote himself to baseball all through his life. It was at Waseda University, however, that he was to lead a hard but happy baseball life. What decided his life was his encounter with two baseball greats: Isoo Abe, father of student baseball, and Suishu Tobita, Mentor of student baseball.

He established himself as a regular catcher of Waseda Nine. In the spring of 1926, he became batting champion in Tokyo Big Six League and in 1927 he went to America as a member of the 5th expedition team which won 22 games and lost 12. In 1929, when he was a senior, he captained his team, which, in the fall season, won the 3- game decision match against Keio Nine. It was indeed honor for him to receive the Crown Prince Cup from Isoo Abe, president of the TBSL, his worshipped mentor.

After graduation he worked for a life insurance company, but at the same time he played baseball for the Tokyo Club and won twice in the Inter-City Baseball Championship Tournament. He also umped for TBSL and Inter-Middle School Championship Tournament. He was manager of Waseda Nine from 1940 to 1943 and led a busy life of dual duty. His managership ended with the prohibition of playing baseball in the fall of 1943 with the worsening situation of WWII. He was obliged to attend to kitchen gardening which proved to be a life sustaining job after the end of the war, but it gave him a grief to hear of the death of his young players in the war. I was then10 years old, and the scene impressed on my memory.

When the war was over, my father was quick to give his attention to baseball again.
He was instrumental in resuming the All-Waseda vs All-Keio match (five games were played in 1945 and 1946), which, to his great joy, heralded a new baseball era. He was all the more enthusiastic about baseball that whenever he was called upon to help promote baseball, he did not hesitate to visit even a small school in the country. He seemed to be aware that he owed what he was to baseball and was determined to live the rest of his life showing his gratitude by his voluntary work.

As he was far from being a family man, I had little time to spend with him, but I learned a lot from his way and view of life: high spirit, fervor and effort to win, sense of duty and responsibility to live up to his part, reflection on process and result, tolerance of errors committed by well-intentioned colleagues, challenging spirit against the strong, solidarity with his associates, gratitude and thankfulness to seniors and teachers. In his later life, he worked for Meiji Shrine Outer Garden for 18 years and with the confidence on the part of the chief priests of Meiji Shrine, he exerted himself to establish co-prosperity of student and pro baseball by allowing the latter to use Meiji Jingu (i.e. Shrine) Stadium.

Last but not least, I would like to express my thanks to all the people who helped him kindly in his life.

p.4  Rara Avis (56)  

     Four balls autographed by four managers participating in KONAMI CUP Asia Series
                                                        Takahiro Sekiguchi, co-curator

The first KONAMI CUP Asia Series was held in Tokyo Dome in 2005 with the
participation of four teams representing their respective pro leagues:Sinon Bulls (Chinese Professional Baseball League), Samsung Lions (Korean Baseball Organization), Chiba Lotte Mariners (Nippon Professional Baseball) and China Stars (China Baseball Association). Japan was 3-0 and Korea 2-1 in the round robin competition. Japan defeated Korea 5 to 3 in the final decision game and won the KONAMI CUP.

  Liu Jung-Hua (photo back left) led the Sinon Bulls to a consecutive victory in 2004 and 2005 in CPBL.
  Sun Dong-Yol (photo front right) joined Haitai Tigers in 1985 and led the KBO in ER for seven years in succession. After pitching for the Chunichi Dragons in Japan (1996-99) as a relief pitcher, he led Samsung Lions to victory in KBO in 2005, his first year as its skipper.
  Bobby Valentine (photo front left) former Texas Rangers manager, led the Chiba Lotte Mariners to 2nd place in the Pacific League in 1995. In 2000, he led the New York Mets to win the pennant in the National League. He managed the Mariners again in 2004 and led his team to win the Japan Series and KONAMII CUP in 2005.
  Ex-Dodger James Lefebvre (photo back right) played for the Lotte Orions from 1973 to 1976, making a great contribution to the team’s victory in 1974. After serving as manager in MLB, he became manager of the China Stars in September, 2002, when the CBA went into action.

In addition to these four memorable balls, we were fortunate enough to collect balls used in each of the ceremonial first pitch in the 2005 Asia Series and a ball autographed by Hu Jianguo, president of CBA, who visited our baseball museum at that time. We intend to collect related materials in the coming KONAMI CUP Asia Series 2006 and enrich our collections of baseball in Asia.

Asia and World Baseball Exhibition

         Tuesday, October 3, 2006 through Sunday, December 3, 2006
         At Exhibition Room of the Baseball Museum

The year of 2006 marked Japan’s victory in the first WBC in March, but it saw other
worldwide baseball competitions in which Japan’s representatives achieved good results.

The current exhibition is showcasing the 3rd World University Baseball
Championship (La Havana, Cuba, August 6 – 16, 4th place), the 2nd Women’s World
Cup (Taipei, August 1 – 7, 2nd place), Little League World Series (Williamsport,
August 18-27, 2nd place), and oncoming KONAMI CUP (Tokyo Dome, November
9-12, AEON Japan-U.S. Baseball Series 2006 (Tokyo Dome, Kyocera Dome and
Yahoo Dome, November 2-8).

The KONAMI CUP, which was on display here until October 15, is now on tour abroad in Taiwan, China and Korea. The winner of the final game on November 12 will be entitled to keep it for another year.
p.5   Column: Much to See, Much to Enjoy (20)

      Hachiro Maekawa, living witness of the inauguration of pro baseball in Japan
                                 Masahide Takai, sustaing member of the Baseball Museum
Availing myself of a fact that Mrs. Ikuyo Maekawa and I come from the same
district (Shiso City, Hyogo Prefecture), I was so bold as to visit the legendary pitcher one day in October in 2004. When I was shown in his room with a TV, a calendar, and bookshelves stacked with new books, I was impressed by his vigor and intellectual curiosity. He was still hale and hearty in his 90s.

Exactly 70 years ago, Japan’s pro baseball began in the fall season of 1936.
Both the Giants and the Tigers were in first place with the same winning percentage and a playoff was held in a newly opened Suzaki Stadium in three games early in December. It saw a famous duel between pitcher Sawamura who appeared in all of the three games invigorated by eating horse meat and long hitter Kageura whose home run off Sawamura’s cliff-like sinking curve bounced out of the bleachers. It was the heyday of Tokyo Big Six University League, but the final games of the newly inaugurated pro baseball made its presence felt among baseball fans. It must be remembered that Maekawa batted third or fourth and moreover relieved in the 2nd game and started in the third game, thus contributing greatly to the victory of the Giants.

Recalling the notorious harsh training at Morinji in Gunma Prefecture, which manager Fujimoto impelled on his players in the pre-season to beef them up, he said, “Shiraishi, Tsutsui and I were the main target of his fielding practice. I was a pitcher and had no experience of third baseman. Unlike the other two who had just graduated from middle school, I had played for non-pro baseball after graduating from university, so I found it had to convert myself to an infielder.” The Giants were not the same as the Greater Tokyo Giants who played against the barnstorming All-American Stars in 1934. After two times of expedition to America, there was a marked weak point in infield with retirement of leading players. There was nothing left for them but harsh training in a bad-conditioned playground to regain their strength.

He has a vivid and fond memory of pitcher Sawamura. With him and later with Starffin, he pitched against the strong batters of the Tigers. This rivalry was indeed the feature of Japan’s pro baseball in its early days. Participation of not only star players of TBSL like Mizuhara, Mihara, Karita, Tabe, Wakabayashi and Kageura, but Maekawa who had made a steady study at university to professional baseball contributed greatly to enhance the prestige and popularity of professional baseball. After retirement Maekawa taught Japanese at middle schools. Later in life, he was the chief scout of the Giants and after that he taught at Horikoshi Gakuen until he was 73.

This summer he enjoyed watching the thrilling two-game final match at Koshien Stadium. “Indeed, pitcher Tanaka of Tomakomai High School has a bright future before him,” he admitted, “but pitcher Saito of Waseda Jitsugyo is my favorite, as, like me, he is not so big as Tanaka.” “I was deeply moved to see the two high school pitchers pitch in two successive games under the torrid sun. Pro pitchers today are guarded in a rigid rotation and do not pitch for a few days. What a difference!”

At the age of 94, he may surely be the only living witness of strenuous times of pro baseball 70 years ago, which are without doubt the basis of the prosperity of present-day pro baseball. I sincerely hope he will continue to be hale and hearty for long.
p.6     Library News
                                            Reiko Yamane, Librarian

As a follow-up to my report on pro baseball in Korea, I will make a short survey of the history of pro baseball in Taiwan.
It started in 1990 in one league (Chinese Professional Baseball League) consisting of 4 teams. It expanded to 6 in 1993and to 7 in 1997, but it contracted to 6 in 1998 and to 4 in 2000. Two teams joined in 2003, and the number of teams has been 6 ever since.
In the meanwhile, the other league (Taiwan Major League) consisting of 4 teams existed temporarily from 1997 to 2002.

p.7   A) Joint Program between Cooperstown and Tokyo Begins

                                                        Fumio Kobayashi, president

We are happy to announce that an agreement has been reached upon the following program between the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown and the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Tokyo and has been endorsed by Mr. Dale Petroskey and Mr. Fumio Kobayashi, respective presidents of the two museums. They share a view that this is the next cultural exchange between their two museums.


Those individuals who support either the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown or the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Tokyo through annual membership dues will be provided with complimentary admission to the other museum upon producing their membership card. The program will begin October 1, 2006 and end on December 31, 2007.

The total numbers of their sustaining members are 20,000 (in 7 categories) and 170 (in 3 categories) respectively. The basic admission fees are 5 and/or 14.5 dollars in Cooperstown and 200 yen and/or 400 yen in Tokyo.
We are looking forward to having a lot of American members to our Baseball Museum and vice versa.

   B)  New Sustaining Members Invited

Since its foundation in 1959 as a museum specializing in baseball, the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum has been dedicated to its functions of collecting, preserving, and exhibiting materials on baseball and its related sports. We now have about 30,000 artifacts and photographs, and some 50,000 books and magazines, and we have more than 150,000 visitors per year to the baseball museum and the baseball library. We have honored baseball greats by inducting them into the Hall of Fame through annual selections by the Selection Committee for Players and the Special Selection Committee.
Sustaining members are expected to endorse and support the above projects by paying the membership fees.

Privilege of Sustaining Member

Sustaining members are entitled to receive the following:

  1. Quarterly Newsletter
  2.  Complimentary ticket valid throughout the year
  3.  5 courtesy tickets for non-members (Individual membership)
    20 courtesy tickets for non-members (Corporation membership)
  4. Occasional News Release
  5. 10% reduction to the items on sale at the baseball museum
  6. The Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum 2002 with addenda
    (New individual sustaining members only)
  7. Baseball Museum original pin
    (New junior sustaining members only)

There are three kinds of sustaining members. The yearly membership is valid from April to March.

  1. Individual membership   (Membership fee is 10,000 yen
      Overseas membership fee is 100 dollars)
  2. Corporation membership  (Membership fee is 100,000 yen)
      Overseas membership is 1,000 dollars)
  3. Junior Membership (Primary and junior high school students.
      Membership fee is 2,000Yen
    *The membership fee for new individual sustaining members varies according to the month when they join.
         From April to September:   10,000 yen
              October to December:  5,000 yen
              January to March      2,000 yen
    If you have any questions, please feel free to ask the Management
    at 03-3811-3600

    C) News from the Baseball Museum

    1)  All of the 13 directors except one, 2 secretaries, and 35 trustees were
          re-elected upon their expiration of their terms on October 2, 2006.
          Sumiichi Furumura, director, was replaced by Ichita Itabashi, executive director       of  Japan Olympic Committee.
    2)  Press conference to announce the 2007 inductees will be held at the 
          Baseball Hall of Fame at 3 p.m. on Friday, January 12, 2007. All of
          the visitors that day will be welcome to the press conference.
    3)  Introduction of the Baseball Museum

The entrance is located to the right of Gate 21 of the 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: 400yen (300yen*) Adults
                 200yen (150yen*)  Elementary and junior high school pupils
                      (*per person in groups of 20 or more)
Open:  Tuesday through Sunday, every day of the year except December 29 through                  January 1
Closed: Mondays except those 1) during the spring and summer school vacations,
                         2)  that fall on National Holidays, and/or
                         3)  when a professional baseball game is played at Tokyo Dome

p.8    Essay  (26)   Talks with Kadota, 2005 Hall of Famer
                         Daigo Tamura, member of Special Selection Committee
I had a talk with Hiromitsu Kadota several times at a hotel in Kyoto recently. Every time we met, we talked late into the night. The 2005 Hall of Famer was the home run king three times in the Pacific League. He was born in 1947, one of the so-called baby-boomer generation which has been much talked about in that they have come to retirement at last. They sustained Japan’s economic society in its developing stage which had overcome the turmoil after the war. They have grown up with the age.

When they were young, there was a lack of daily necessities. Baseball gear was scarce, and even if it was at stores, there were only a few boys who could afford to buy. Homes with a TV set were so few that sometimes there was only one in the neighborhood. As depicted in a recent movie, “ALWAYS, Setting Sun Seen at the 3rd Block,” he too joined his neighbors to gather in front of the treasured TV and enjoyed watching pro wrestling and pro baseball. It was very interesting to find the root of his later development in there.

The highlight, however, of his recollected story was his miraculous recovery from a severed Achilles’ tendon and the feat of hitting 44 home runs at the age of 40, a feat that has not been achieved even by world’s home run king Sadaharu Oh. It took two whole days and nights to talk about these two topics, but here I am obliged to skip them and dwell on what ran underneath in his long talk.

Unlike today, games of the PL were not broadcast or televised, nor covered by the press which were more likely to cover games of the Central League that had the Giants, the most popular and prestigious team in Japan. Players of the PL often had to play in a shabby stadium with many empty seats. This, Kadota admitted, proved a springboard for them to make endeavor to develop their skills and excel their counterparts of the CL in caliber. (the editor’s note: That’s why the PL was more victorious than the CL in the annual All-Star games.) Kadota was no exception. Even in a poor environment, he made his strenuous effort to be a great player. Everything around him, from baseball gear to stadium amenities, was so poor as unbelievable in these days.

The story he wanted to be handed down to young batters today was that of batting-practice pitchers At present every team has a bunch of batting-practice pitchers in its roster consisting of right-handed, left-handed, overthrowing and sidethrowing pitchers who have “batting-practice fastballs” to prepare batters for the actual games. But when Kadota was young, there were only one or two practice pitchers on a team. They were usually “off-peak” pitchers who cared for regular players but got tired when pitching for the young players. These pitches tended to be wild and hard to connect, so young players had to learn how to cope with these few different pitches in a short time before the game. Batting practice in a perfect environment---kind and able coaches in an indoor training ground or a gymnasium equipped with sophisticated training machines, for example—is not everything, Kadota declared.


Contact us

Copyright (C) THE BASEBALL HALL OF FAME AND MUSEUM All rights reserved.