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Articles in NEWSLETTER, Vol.17, No.2

p.1  Induction Ceremony for the 2007 Hall of Famers
                                                             Fumio Kobayashi, President
                                      
On Friday, July 20, the late Takao Kajimoto and Reiichi Matsunaga were inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in the ceremony held at Tokyo Dome preceding the first game of the 2007 All-Star Games. Kajimoto, the southpaw who pitched for the Hankyu Braves as their mainstay and has a career record of 867 plate appearances (3rd on the all-time list), 2,945 strikeouts (6th), and 254 wins (9th), was elected by the Selection Committee for Players. Matsunaga, who led the All-Japan to victory in the demonstration event in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and was given the Best Manager Award by the International Amateur Baseball Association, was elected by the Special Selection Committee.

The induction ceremony was woven into the opening ceremony of the game in that it was surrounded by all the managers, coaches, and members of the Central and Pacific Leagues’ All-Stars who were called up, one by one, to the diamond and were lined on the foul lines. The Aurora Vision introduced the playing days of the new Hall of Famers and the ceremony began when they stood near the pitcher’s mound. The spectators gave them a standing ovation when they saw Mrs.Kyoko Kajimoto and her two grandchildren, Shoto and Akari, representing their hero in the ceremony. He died only last September and it was a great relief and joy for his family to attend the induction ceremony.

Munechika Negoro, Chairman of the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, awarded the two new Hall of Famers with a replica of their plaque which would be displayed on the wall of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Then a bouquet presentation was made: from Masaichi Kaneda, the 400 winner and 1988 Hall of Famer, and Toshiharu Ueda, Kajimoto’s skipper and 2003 Hall of Famer, to the two grandchildren of Mrs. Kajimoto, and to Matsunaga from Koichi Tabuchi and Koji Yamamoto, both of whom were under his instructions at Hosei University and will coach the Team Japan at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

On behalf of the new inductees, Matsunaga said in his acceptance speech, “It is a great honor to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. The god of baseball taught me the importance of doing for others, not so much as availing others for oneself.” It was obvious that he is still enthusiastic about baseball when he said he would try to continue to contribute to baseball and made a request for support of the Hoshino Japan which will be coached by no other people than by his two former students.

(photo, from left to right) 
Toshiharu Ueda, Masaichi Kaneda, Shoto Tamura, Kyoko Kajimoto, Akari Kajimoto, Reiichi Matsunaga, Koichi Tabuchi, and Koji Yamamoto.

p.2  Summer News ~ Exhibition

     a) Special Exhibition: 2007 Hall of Famers
        Friday, July 20, 2007 through Wednesday, September 26, 2007
        At the Baseball Hall of Fame
           The current exhibition showcases the great achievements of the two 2007 Hall
           of Famers: the late Takao Kajimoto and Reiichi Matsunaga, with their artifacts,
           photos,records, and other exhibits. Their plaques were unveiled at the Induction
           Ceremony at Tokyo Dome on July 20 and now being on display at this exhibition
           until September 26, when they will be permanently enshrined on the wall of the
           Baseball Hall of Fame.

     b) Summer Special Exhibition: All-Star Games through 70 Years, 1937~2007
              Tuesday, July 10, through Tuesday, September 4, 2007
              (For details see p. 5)

     Summer News ~ Events

         a) Baseball Study by Elementary and Junior High School Students

        Saturday, July 21, 2007 through Sunday, September 2, 2007         
        At the Baseball Library
          Baseball terminology, statistics, and history of baseball will provide good topics
          for free study by elementary and junior high school students during their summer
          vacation.The two librarians and student assistants will be ready to show them how to           read books in the library and how to use artifacts on display in all sections of the
          baseball museum.

         b) Demonstration of bat making

        Saturday, August 11 and the following day
        11:00-12:00, 13:30-14:30, 15:00-16:00
        At the Baseball Hall of Fame
          In cooperation with Mizuno Corporation. The craftsman at work will welcome any           questions on bat making.

 

         c) Hands-on Experience of Producing a Glove by a parent-child team

        13:00-15:00 Monday, August 13, 2007
        At the Baseball Hall of Fame
        In cooperation with Mizuno Corporation.                
           Entry: 12 pairs of elementary school student and his/her parent.
          Entry fee: 3,500 yen per pair including admission tickets.
          When their glove is completed, the entrants can take it home.
          (For record: The deadline of application was July 13, 2007)             

p.3  Inductees Remembered (16)

          My Dear Father      Teruaki Bessho 
                                  eldest son of Takehiko Bessho, 1979 Hall of Famer 

The forefather of the Besshos was Nagaharu Bessho, lord of a castle in Miki, Hyugo Prefecture, and he was killed at the young age of 23 by the famous Hideyoshi Toyotomi in 1580. His tomb is still in Awaji Island. My father was his descendant in the 25th generation and made his family name known around the country by his great performance in baseball. It was a custom with him and me to make an annual pilgrimage to Awajj. I remember making a little commotion every time we made a trip there by a variety of traveling means: by car, air, Shinkansen, bus, train, or ferry. As I have continued it even after his death, I have been there for over 40 years. 

When he won the 310th victory in 1959, I was seven years old. But it was at a game in Korakuen Stadium in the March of 1962 to celebrate his retirement that I saw him pitch for the first and last time. He looked really valiant to a 9-year-old boy, and his pitching has remained vivid in my living memory. I was glad to have him come to my classroom on the fathers’ visiting day, but it was inevitable for the famous pro pitcher to become a conspicuous target of lion hunters to seek his signature. He was my self-asserted hero and I respected him. Later in life, he looked an enlightened high priest.

I once attended his lecture and found an enticing talker in him. He began by telling a story of his toils in his younger days, enlivening it with gossips of pro baseball, and ended it with a moral about what man should be. He was flooded with lecture requests from smaller businesses and it was not rare for him to make as many as 300 lectures a year. His strong body and spirit enabled him to make a pilgrimage around the country like a priest. It seemed a little too early, therefore, that he should die at the age of 76. Toward the end of that year, he was selected into the 25-member Century Best Team. I received the award for him at Tokyo Dome Hotel, thinking how happy he should be if he was alive.

At home, however, the great father was not different from other ordinary fathers, watching TV and enjoying low-brow programs such as period pieces and comics. On an off-day, he cooked food for himself in a pot on the table for supper. He liked to preside at the table, and his likes were hot-pot meat of pork, sukiyaki, pork on a skew, and tempura. His great appetite was catching and I myself tasted everything fine. My pleasures in the childhood was (1) to go to a big public bath called Tokyo Spa with my whole family, take a sauna and eat Korean-style grilled meat afterwards, (2) to play catch in our garden with my father as a catcher, and (3) to go with him to the barber’s. On the way back, we used to go to a cinema to see a period piece. He always bought me an ice cream. When he paid for it, he felt his pocket and took out small coins, which, strangely enough, looked then quite man-like. What vexes me in retrospect is that I have not been able to beat him in golf and mahjong.

The most important lesson I learned from him is to study for life and do anything in good faith. He used to say that I should have a feeling of humility and that I should work when I should and enjoy myself when I would. Have a sense of proportion and maintain harmony: this is the middle way and the right way, so he always said. Now it is time to follow his sayings and live earnestly every day. That may be what I can do to repay the debt I owe to my father who attained the peak as a baseball player and at the same time as an ordinary man. Perhaps he is laughing heartily at me in the grave.

p.4  Rara Avis (60)  Autographed balls at East-West All-Star Competition in 1937
                                         Takahiro Sekiguchi, Co-curator

One of the memorable exhibits in the current exhibition, “All-Star Games through 70 Years, 1937~2007” is the two balls (see photo right) autographed by the initial All-Stars in 1937. The ball on the left represents the West, with Masaru Kageura’s signature in the center, flanked by those of peer Hall of Famers (Shuichi Ishimoto, Kenjiro Matsuki, Tadashi Wakabayashi, Yukio Nishimura, Minoru Yamashita, and Saburo Miyatake), and other players. The one on the right represents the East, with Eiji Sawamura’s signature in the center, flanked by those of peer Hall of Famers (Sadayoshi Fujimoto, Haruyasu Nakajima, Shigeru Mizuhara, Toshio Shiraishi, Hisanori Karita and Victor Starffin) and other players.

It was the second year of the 1-league pro baseball and Takeo Akuta, a sports writer working for Osaka Asahi Shimbun, suggested an All-Star Game after the fashion of its counterpart in America. He had played for Waseda University and later in 1988 was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. The first All-Star Games were played in an “inter-squad” system, i.e., the East vs. the West competition, the eight teams being divided according to the location of their franchise. The East included Giants, Senators, Lions and Eagles and the West did Tigers, Hankyu, Kinko and Nagoya.The players were selected by the Selection Committee of NPB. The games were hosted by the Social Work Organization affiliated to the Osaka Asahi Shimbun.

The best-of-three-game series were played on November 20, 21 and 23 at Koshien Stadium. The East with a battery of Sawamura (Giants), MVP in the spring season of 1937, and Harris (Eagles), MVP in the fall season of 1937, won over the West by 14 to 0 in the first game. The west won the second game 4 to 1 thanks to great efforts by Tiger players, Nishimura and Matsuki. The West also won the third game with a rally of 12 hits. The winners of the award for the series were Minoru Yamashita (Hankyu, batting) and Shigeru Mizuhara (Giants, fielding).

The East-West Competition with a varying number of games continued to be played until the end of the 1-league pro baseball in 1949, with an overall record of 35 wins by the East, 30 wins by the West and 2 ties. The crucial year was 1944, when the games slated in Korakuen Stadium in Tokyo were cancelled by an air-raid and instead three games were played at Nishinomiya Stadium in Osaka.

       Summer Special Exhibition: All-Star Games through 70 Years, 1937~2007
        Tuesday, July 10, through Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The All-Star Games in the 1-league era in the style of the East-West Competition was succeeded by the present-day All-Star Games in the 2nd year of the 2-league pro baseball in 1951. The participating All-Stars have been elected by fan balloting. In the current exhibition, the 70 years of the so-called Dream Game Festival are being traced with photos of the annual All-Stars of the Central and Pacific Leagues, their memorable artifacts, and showing of historic scenes on the screen as scheduled in the following.

  Games from 1951 to 1981(excepting 1953-56 and 1977)
        July 10~15, July 30~August 5, August 20~26
             
   Games from 1980 to 1995          
       July 16~22, August 6 ~ 12, August 27 ~ September 2
           
   Games from 1994 to 2006          
       July 23~29, August 13~19, September 3, 4

p.5  Column: Much to See, Much to Enjoy (23)
         Lessons by my mentors: the essence of commentary
                        Toshiharu Shimamura, Supporter of the Baseball Museum

In the beginning of last July, I visited Kure City in Hiroshima Prefecture to make a lecture. When I was an announcer at NHK, I worked for its Hiroshima branch. At my leisure, I was engrossed in angling rockfish and went about islands in Seto Inland Sea. I have also an irresistible recollection of covering, in a shivering cold weather, the spring camp of the Nankai Hawks at Kure Nikou Stadium, where I made a live report from exhibition games. I have worked with hundreds of baseball commentators as an NHK announcer and as a freelance. But I call only two of them as my mentors of my life. They will deny having accepted me as their disciple; I am taking the liberty of calling myself as their disciple. They are Kazuto Tsuruoka and Tetsuharu Kawakami.

When I re-visited Kure, hometown of Boss Tsuruoka, for the first time in dozens of years, a kaleidoscope of memories passed before my mind’s eye: the broadcasting booth I worked with him, spring camp, and dinner under the pretext of a review meeting. Tsuruoka and Kawakami made a good contrast to each other in their job as commentator. Tsuruoka always said, “Advance arrangements and test commentary make broadcasting on air dead. It’s no use thinking about it beforehand. Let’s deal with things as they come. The course of a game does not run as predicted. Let’s go ad lib.”

True to being noted for his cautiousness (“He won’t cross a stone bridge, even if he takes precaution by examining it with a stick beforehand”), Kawakami was the very reverse of Tsuruoka.“Let’s make sure what we are going to talk about: the theme and viewpoint. Advance arrangements are prerequisite in my commentary.” In the margin of his scorebook, he never failed to write down the points he wanted to make on air. “Shima-chan, don’t forget to ask me about these points,” he would say. Two years ago, I made a live commentary with the 85-year-old Mnetor, and I was surprised to find his behavior quite unchanged.

My motto is the comment Boss Tsuruoka made on my live broadcasting in a game played by the Nankai Hawks at Osaka Stadium. I was then gaining confidence in my ability and rather outspoken in reporting a player’s performance in a game. When the second baseman let a simple grounder go through his legs, I added in triumph, “What a careless play! Tsuruoka-san, what was he doing at spring camp? It’s nothing but a simple grounder.” He only commented, “That’s too bad. He is sorry for it himself.” When I drank with him on that night, he said, “Your comment is all right indeed. But he has his wife, son, and parents. What do they think of your comment on the radio or TV? Don’t you understand?” Evidently he reasoned me with my self-complacency about progress in reporting. Even now when I speak over a microphone, I always tell myself the remark Boss Tsuruoka made on me. It comes home to me as I must own that I have a sharp tongue.Iwould like to hear it drummed likewise into contemporary popular newscasters and woman announcers.

 Kawakami would give ear to an opinion of other people. Both at spring camps and before games in the pennant race, he always asked me what I thought of the pitchers of the team. Naturally when the game was broadcast, he was always on a position to answer questions asked by the announcer. “When I managed the Giants, I thought that a good coach should be able to express his opinion to me. Mere knowledge of his players is not enough as a coach. I made it a rule to make decisions after what coaches had to say about players.” I hear it said that after training himself in Buddhist ascetic practices, he tried to be completely taking on the role expected of him. Though this is a mere echo of his teachings, I am also trying to follow his steps in the profession of sports broadcasting and journalism. At the age of 66, I still make a live broadcast for five or six hours a day, and sometimes three successive days on J-Sports. “But, my two Mentors, I swear I won’t forget your teachings for ever!”

p.6  Library News
               Prizes at annual All-Star Games    Reiko Yamane  Co-librarian

Coveted prizes given to the Most Valuable Players in the annual All-Star Games are listed in the following diagram (left out for lack of space here). It is to be hoped that, with added information on main event and the average of initial salary of public employees of the year, the reader will see how they have changed with ages.
Incidentally, in 1967, managers (Mihara and Tsuruoka) were each given a puppy collie, the sponsor being an importing trading company specializing in animals for medical treatment.

p.7  News from the Baseball Museum
  
   A)  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. They are entitled to receive the following:

  1) Quarterly Newsletter
  2) Complimentary ticket (i.e., member’s card) valid throughout year. This ticket is also
   valid for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y.
  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 2007
    (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 fee is 10,000 yen
                          (Overseas membership fee is 100 dollars)
  2) Corporate       Membership fee is 100,000 yen
                          (Overseas membership is 1,000 dollars)
  3) Junior  (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

Application forms are available both at the entrance and at the Event Hall. They are also available by mail. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask the Management at 03-3811-3600.
    
   B)  The joint meeting of the boards of directors and trustees was held at Tokyo Dome Hotel on Monday, June 11, 2007 with the attendance of their 50 members, including vicarious attendance in writing.. All of the four items on the agenda were unanimously approved.

   C)  Changes in Officials
   New trustees     Toshimasa Shimada
                             Chief Operation Officer of the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters
                            Nobuo Minami
                             President-Director of the Hanshin Tigers
   Retiring trustees   Takeshi Kojima
                              Katsuyoshi Nozaki
   
    D)  Obituary
                 Jiro Noguchi, 1989 Hall of Famer, passed away on May 21, 2007
                 at the age of 87.

    E)  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: 500yen (300yen*)   Adults
                    200yen (150yen*)   Primary & Junior High School students
                    (* Per person in groups 20 or more)
                    300yen          Senior citizen (aged 65 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. In other words, during the coming three months, the museum will be
           closed on September 10, October 1, 15, 22 and 29.

p.8 Essay (29)  Alex Ramirez,the best clutch hitter in the Central League
                                          Tatsuya Otsuki
                                          Osaka Branch,Yomiuri Shimbun

I was impressed when a certain scorer said, “Man gets tense when stillness passes to movement.” We were talking about a player’s ability to do his best in the clutch. The word “tense” may have no place in soccer, which is a succession of ball passing and a shooting is made taking advantage of a momentary chance. But in baseball, all actions are repetitions of stillness and movement. Baseball is always accompanied by tenseness and pressure.

The other day, batting average with a runner or runners on scoring position was talked about. In baseball, scoring hits are better than non-scoring ones.Suppose in the bottom of the 9th inning, a triple was followed by a game-ending single. In this case, the latter batter is more laudable than the former. Thus like RBIs, the scoring position batting average is a barometer of a player’s contribution to a game. The SPBA is not given in the Official Professional Baseball Guide published annually by NPB. The Central League alone enters it in their Green Book (it was called Chance BA until 1999), but all of the 12 teams enter fuller ones of their players against opposing teams and pitchers in their media guides and use them as part of valuable data.

On looking at the Green Book, I noticed that, among many downs and ups, Alex Ramirez (Yakult Swallows) alone has recorded more than .300 SPBA for five consecutive years. I asked him before the game on July 4 against the Hanshin Tigers at Koshien Stadium. Contrary to my anticipation, he answered volubly to my questions, using the word approach very often. He stressed the importance of waiting for the right pitch, taking into consideration of the pitcher’s stuff, the catcher’s idiosyncrasy together with other accumulated data. “If you have two choices, you will never be able to have a good result,” he declared.

He did not hit safely for the first three times at bat. Something gloomy loomed on me. Baseball players are apt to be superstitious and he might be thinking about the talk he had with me before the game. I might be to blame? At the 4th time at hat, on the top of the 7th inning with two away, the game being 3 to 3, he had a runner on scoring position for the first time. He swung at the ball Tiger pitcher William threw at him—a safety infield hit in the middle. It proved the game winning run and furthermore it gave a final stop to Yakult’s seven consecutive losses against the Tigers!

It was too good to be true. When the game was over, we cast a smiling glance at each other. How becoming a jolly mask is to a gambler-like batter who is willing to take a chance every time at bat!

 

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