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Articles in NEWSLETTER, Vol.17, No.3

p.1  Rules for Election Revised ~ A Comparison with those in Cooperstown
                                                          Fumio Kobayashi, President
                                      
Rules for Election to the Baseball Hall of Fame were first enacted at the inauguration of the Baseball Museum in 1959 and were very much after the fashion of the ones in Cooperstown, only the election is done by the Selection Committee for Players and the Special Selection Committee. In America eligible players are self-evidently pro players with MLB career, but in Japan they include both pro and amateur players because since its introduction in 1872 amateur baseball flourished before the current pro baseball started in 1936. Managers, coaches, umpires were selected in the same category as players. A big difference between Japanese and American players is that Japanese players were not eligible if they are otherwise connected with baseball after retiring as players.             
Minor amendments have been done in response to the changes in the circumstances surrounding baseball in Japan, particularly the appearance of Japanese Major Leaguers. It must be mentioned here that an extraordinary selection was made in the interim New Century category in 2002 and 2003 and among the then inductees were Horace Wilson and Lefty O’Doul. A fundamental amendment in the rules of election has widely been called for now that almost half a century has passed since the BHFM was opened to the public. After two years of study, the amendments including the subdivision of the Players category into Players and Experts Divisions were approved by the Board of Directors in last June and will be put into effect in the selection for 2008 Hall of Famers.
It is to be hoped that by this revision players turned managers (most often the case in Japan) / coaches/umpires whose careers are most prominent as players in ball fans’ memory will be considered early for their achievements as players and that the problems involved with “composite” candidates will be solved.
 
p. 2  Revised and Added Provisions of Rules for Elections  (The other provisions are unaltered.)

A  The Selection Committee for Players

  1. Players Division

Candidates   Candidates to be eligible are pro players who have ceased to be active for at
                    least five (5) years and less than 21 (26 as an interim measure for 2008 ) years
                    prior to election. They may be otherwise connected with baseball after
                    retirement. 
                    If the candidate is dead at the time of selection, there is no waiting
                   period.
Method of    The Screening committee shall prepare a ballot listing no more than 30
Election      eligible candidates.
                  Players who are eligible for the first time and fail to receive a vote on a
                  minimum of three percent (3%) shall not be eligible in the following years.
                  Electors shall make an open vote for no more than seven (7) eligible
                 candidates.
                  Any candidate receiving votes on seventy-five percent (75%) of the ballots
                 cast shall be elected to membership in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
 

   2. Experts Division  

Electors        All the members of the Baseball Hall of Fame elected by the Selection
                   Committee  for Players and the director of the SCP.
Candidates   Candidates to be eligible are pro managers, coaches, and umpires who
                   have been retired as such for at least six (6) months prior to election.
                   If the candidate is 65 years old or dead at the time of selection, there is no
                   waiting period.
                   Players who are eligible in the Players Division and have been ceased to be
                  active  more than 20 (25 as an interim measure for 2008) years.
Method of     The Screening Committee shall prepare a ballot listing no more than 10
 Election       eligible candidates.
                   Electors shall make an open vote for no more than three (3) eligible
                  candidates.   Any candidate receiving votes on seventy-five percent (75%) of
                  the ballots cast  shall be elected to membership in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

 B  The Special Selection Committee

Candidates   Candidates to be eligible are amateur players, managers, coaches and
                  umpires. Players must have been retired for at least five (5) years,
                  and Managers, coaches and umpires must have been retired as such for
                  at least six (6) months.
                   If the candidate is 65 years old or dead at the time of selection, there is no
                   waiting period.
Method of    The Screening Committee shall prepare a ballot listing 10 eligible
Election        candidates.

The announcement of the 2008 Hall of Famers will be made at the press conference in the Baseball  Hall of Fame at 15:00 on Friday, January 11, 2008.
                     
p.3  Inductees Remembered (17)    Sabu-chan, My Dad
                                     Hideo Yokozawa
                                     Son of Saburo Yokozawa, 1988 Hall of Famer 

This year is the 13th anniversary of my father’s death at the age of 93. I am now as old as 77. How time flies. My father who devoted his whole life to baseball was nicknamed “Sabu-chan” and loved by all baseball people. I like him very much and I am proud of him.
I am told that he was a splendid second baseman for Meiji University. After graduation, he umped for Tokyo Big6 Baseball League and when pro baseball started in 1936, he became manager of Tokyo Senators. I do not know anything about him at that time, but as the team trained in Takarazuka stadium, it was quite natural for him and his three brothers (manager’s assistant and players) to become ardent fans of Takarazuka All-girls Operetta Troupe. The quartet frequented to the theatre so often that they got dirty looks from the theatre staff, but ironically three of them got married to Takarazuka girls. Ichizo Kobayashi, founder of TAOT, the Hankyu Railways and the Hankyu Braves, was kind enough to permit their marriage. It was thanks to him that I worked for the direction department of TAOT.
On my way home from elementary and middle schools, I dropped in Korakuen Stadium almost every day and watched him manage the Senators and ump the game ( He turned umpire in 1938). We always returned home together. Naturally he was all smiles when the team won and umped well, but the non-smoker and non-drinker (unlike baseball players of those days) was rather hard to please and my mother was anxious about him. She was glued to the radio when the Senators were on. It happened one day that the team was losing the game. She offered a rice cracker that she had bought at Asakusa Kannon Temple and prayed. To our surprise and great joy, the Senators made a come-from-behind victory! My father was more joyful than my mother. So it was usual for our family to be swayed by his result in the stadium. But he was nice to his only son who became fond of baseball.
His father served as secretary for the famous General Kodama and succeeded to him as Governor-General of Taiwan in pre-war days. He was not interested in newly emerged pro baseball.
When I got all A’s in the first grade in elementary school, I brought the school report to him. He was overjoyed and said in the presence of my father, “Don’t become a person like your father. Live on books,” and gave me pocket money. I was puzzled, but afterwards my father explained to me pleasantly, “It means you must work hard by reading books and come up in the world.”  I own myself to have lived up to their expectation, because I have managed to work as a librettist and director. My father’s remark, “Your grandfather was glad with your work at school” proved to be a great impetus throughout my later life.
After the war, he managed the second Tokyo Senators. With home run king Hiroshi Oshita, great pitcher Giichiro Shiraki and agile shortstop Hisanori Karita, the smart Senators were as popular as the winning Yomiuri Giants. I was always spoken to by Senator players, “Hi, Hide-bon!” which seemed to please my father very much. He became an umpire again in 1948, and served as umpire-in-chief of the Pacific League until he retired in 1959. When he was informed of his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1988, he was overjoyed himself with tears and it seemed that he didn’t matter if he might die the next day. It was a fruitful year for the BHF in that as many as five baseball greats, including Shigeo Nagashima and Masaichi Kaneda, were inducted and my father was very glad to share the honor with them in the spectacular induction ceremony at Tokyo Dome.
He was slender as a sportsman and was so healthy that he enjoyed playing golf until his death at the age of 93. He was quite satisfied with his life as a baseball man. I firmly believe that Sabu-chan was happy indeed.

p.4 Rara Avis (61)  Plate Brush used by umpire Nakamura
                                                       Miwako Atarashi, Co-curator

Hiromichi Nakamura was an umpire of the Pacific League and after his retirement he worked for Baseball Magazine Co. at its New York branch. At his death in last April, his bereaved family obliged us by donating his cherished items in his life. They include umpiring goods, autographed balls, bats, caps, more than 10,000 baseball cards (not only of Major Leagues but of Minor Leagues), books and magazines and they total as many as 13,067 items.  
The item here introduced (photographed with a ball bag and an indicator) is a worn-down plate brush he used for a long time. He used it to keep the home plate clean to prevent possible troubles. It is a small one, 10.8 cm x 5.7 cm, and is inscribed with “Sports Officiating Supply.”
I remember him reading a baseball book in English quietly at our baseball library. I promise him to make the most of his items. May he rest in peace.


News from the Baseball Library
     What was there before Tokyo Dome was built?
                                                   Reiko Yamane, co-librarian

In 1949, four years after the war, a tract of lands between Korakuen Stadium and Korakuen Garden was turned to a professional bicycle racing course and it was extensively used as well for more than 20 years. In 1973 it was changed into a jumbo pool and it ceased to be operated on September 2, 1984 in order to give way to the construction of Tokyo Dome. The corner-stone laying ceremony was held on May 16, 1985 and Tokyo Dome was opened to the public on March 17, 1988.

p.5  Column: Much to See, Much to Enjoy (24)
         My fond memory of Korakuen Stadium
                                     Shigeki Nakamura, Supporter of the Baseball Museum
                                  
On March 17, 1988, Tokyo Dome, or Big Egg, was completed as the first domed stadium in Japan, with which professional baseball in Japan was said to launch into a new age. There would be no more rainedout games. Pitching rotation would be easily made. Players would always be able to play in a comfortable situation so that they might find it easy to stay in good condition. On the other hand, the new stadium has a higher outfield fence and the dimensions conform to the MLB standards, which inevitably require strong-armed outfielders. Tokyo Dome was followed by larger domed stadiums in Fukuoka, Osaka, Nagoya and Sapporo. The stadium in Tokorozawa is covered by a dome so that games at four out of six franchises in the Pacific League are now being played under a domed roof. So about a quarter of century after the first domed stadium, Metrodome, was built in Houston, Texas, in 1965, Japanese elementary and junior high school students, and even high school students, may take it for granted that pro baseball should be played and watched in a roofed stadium.
But in my elementary school days in the 1960s, such a luxury was beyond the wildest dream of baseball fans. They enjoyed watching baseball under a bright sun, with a light breeze blowing by. Sometimes they are troubled by bad weather, of course, but they took it as an inevitable part of watching baseball.
Let me tell the readers how I first enjoyed watching baseball in Korakuen Stadium. I was born and raised in Ikebukuro, only a ten-minute ride on subway to the stadium. It was summer vacation and I was an elementary school pupil at that time. I watched a night game between the Toei Flyers (now Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters) and the Tokyo Orions (now Chiba Lotte Marines). The first sight which greeted my eyes were players and beautiful field under bright cocktail beams. How moved I was to see the infield covered with green grass except pitcher’s mound, and the both foul lines! How impressive Toei players were in white uniform! From my seat far above the bench on the third base side, I was able to see the ground between the battery, particularly the way left-handed batters like future Hall of Famer Isao Harimoto swung their bat. I could only guess at the speed of pitched balls. Unlike today, there was no display of the figure, but I am sure that the speed exceeded 140 kilometer per hour. Electric bulletin board, called Aurora Vision, appeared for the first time in 1969, if I remember correctly.
Later on I watched the Giants play there, where Shigeo Nagashima and Sadaharu Oh were in the spotlight. It was thrilling to see the fountain in the centerfield screen play whenever a home team batter hit a home run. Other things I want to mention in this short space are the thrill I felt when I saw the jumbo stand in the distance on getting off the subway and the outdoor batting cages beyond the centerfield stand. How I miss Korakuen Stadium, where I enjoyed feeling a sensation in my body in the natural air! I would like to go back to the fond place which helped nurture a genuine baseball-loving mind.

p.6  Summer Events at Baseball Museum End
                                   Akikoko Ogawa and Reiko Yamane, Co-librarians

  1. Baseball study by elementary and junior high school students

From Saturday, July 21 through Sunday, September 2, they were welcomed to do their independent research at the baseball library. The suggested topics were how different gloves are according to the position, and how different bats are according to the player, how balls are produced, and what trees are used to make a bat. Other topics offered were data on baseball stadiums, baseball terminology, calculation of various percentage concerned with baseball, and history of baseball. About 11,000 persons, mostly young students, visited the baseball museum. A breakdown and analysis of their research are explained on this page with a diagram. 

     2.Demonstration of bat making

The annual demonstration proved as popular as ever. It was done on Saturday, August 11 and the following day at the Baseball Hall of Fame. The visitors were attentive and well prepared to see the demonstration. The craftsman Takahiro Watanabe from Mizuno Technics showed the producing process and politely answered questions from the floor, letting a few children file a bat smooth.

     3.Hands-on experience of producing a glove by parent-child pair

A lesson on how to produce a glove was held on Monday, August 13 with the participation of 12 pairs of a parent and a child. They were selected by lottery from 100 applications made in the middle of last July. They were given an opportunity to do the last process of glove making by stringing gloves under guidance of six experts. As a reward of their 2-hour work, they took home the glove of their own making.

p.7   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. (Please refer to pages 1 and 2 for the amendments.)
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 (i.e., member’s card) valid throughout the 
          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 2007 (published in March, 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   (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/o Takagi and/or Takeuchi.

B) News from the Baseball Museum
    
   1) Obituary
    
      Kazuhisa Saito, councilor, passed away on August 1, 2007 at the age of 85.
      Kiro Osafune, former member of the Special Selection Committee and councilor,
                    passed away on September 10 at the age of 83.
      Toshisaburo Tsuzuki, councilor, passed away on September 22 at the age of 91.
     
     2) 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 citizens 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 November 5, 12, 19, 26; December 3, 10. 17, 29~31;
                    January 1, 7, 21, 28.

p.8 Essay (30)  Summer Tournament in Koshien Stadium and Baseball Topography
                             Toshio Yamamoto, Member of the Special Selection Committee

In last August, the annual Midsummer Festa, or the National High School Baseball Championship was held in the heat of 100 degrees F. in Koshien Stadium near Osaka, and all the nation enthused over the games their local teams played in the mecca of high school baseball. The highlight of the tournament this year was the victory of Saga Kita High School, a hitherto unknown public school in Kyushu. Private schools have been predominant in the traditional tournament.
When they won in the preliminary tournament in Saga Prefecture, they had a small wish: to win at least one game and sing their school song in the national tournament. They had entered it once seven years before, but they lost in the first game. It was natural that in the pre-tournament prediction they were rated not in B but in C class. Saga Kita is so-called university-oriented high school and study has priority over sport. Its players were well aware that they should prepare for university entrance exams after the tournament, so they keep studying even at their hotel during their stay in Osaka.
In the national tournament, they showed their increasingly higher abilities. Once they won over Fukui Commercial HS in their first game (prophetically the first one in the tournament) 2-0 taking their step of using left-handed and right-handed pitchers in succession, they defeated four seemingly stronger teams, Ujiyamada Commercial, Maebashi Commercial, Teikyo, and Nagasaki Nichidai, and advanced to the final game before baseball fans knew it, or more exactly while every baseball fan was amazed at their wonderful performance. In the final against Koryo (Hiroshima Prefecture), they were trailing 0-4 until the 7th inning, but one home run by Soejima on bases loaded in the 8th inning turned the tables and they won the game 5-4. He was not a long hitter, but in the national tournament he hit 3 home runs. It was the first victory in 13 years by a high school in Saga Prefecture. It smacks of the mysterious workings of fate that its predecessor Saga Commercial HS won the game by a bases-loaded home run in the top of the 9th inning
Statistically speaking, the rankings of winning teams in the national tournament in terms of their prefecture are: the first, Ehime Prefecture, 113 wins, 56 losses and 1 tie (0.669), the 2nd, Osaka, 139-79-0 (0.638), the 3rd, Hiroshima, 107-64-1 (0.626). During the last 20 years, eight high schools in the Western Japan won the championship in the first 10 years from 1988 (the 70th), but in the latter decade the situation changed drastically and seven high schools in the Eastern Japan won the coveted championship. It is interesting to know how the baseball topography will change in the next decade beginning in 2008 (the 90th).

 

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