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Articles in NEWSLETTER, Vol.18, No.4

p.1  2009 Hall of Famers Elected

                                                          Hiroshi Satou, President

The Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum announced its Hall of Famers for 2009 at the press conference held at 3 pm at the Baseball Hall of Fame on Tuesday, January 13, 2009. Tsutomu Wakamatsu, the late Noboru Aota were elected by the Players Selection Committee, and the late Yoshinori Ohkoso and the late Ichiro Kimijima were elected by the Special Selection Committee. The membership of the Hall of Famers is now 168, including 35 living Hall of Famers.

After the opening speech by Ryozo Kato, chairman of the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, PSC inductees were given a certificate of their induction from Hajime Toyokura, managing director of BHFM, and SSC inductees by Tadao Koike, the other managing director of BHFM.

In his acceptance speech, Wakamatsu said, “My mind has been a blank since I received the notice. I felt flattered at having done my best although I was a man of small build. I owe what I am to Futoshi Nakanishi (1999 Hall of Famer), my mentor not only in batting but in life.” Nakanishi, the guest speaker for Wakamatsu, talked on his rare experience of scouting the Little Great Hitter in Hokkaido as if it had occurred yesterday. Wakamatsu was not intent on becoming a pro player. He avoided meeting the coach of the Yakult Swallows, shutting himself off at his wife’s parents’ home! “Once I meet such a great batter as Nakanishi, I won’t be able to decline him,” he imagined. Visiting his apartment, the temporal scout was surprised to see the mailbox stacked with newspapers. Nakanishi could do nothing but leave there, asking his father to tell his timid son, “Leave everything to me. I am waiting for you in Tokyo.”

Shigeru Sugishita (1985 Hall of Famer), who spoke for the late Aota, had a fond memory about him. At a grenade throwing drill in the army, the young outfielder threw a hand grenade as far as 84 meters, outdistancing ex-college players. Later in a game when he batted against pitcher Sugishita, who threw forkballs reportedly for the first time in Japan, Aota decided not to do the impossible and prankishly turned his back to Sugishita at the delivery. In the fall of 1979, he coached the Tokyo Giants under Shigeo Nagashima (1988 Hall of Famer) in their training camp at Itoh, which proved a prime mover for their breakthrough in the 1980s. Sugishsita emphasized its importance and said it must not be forgotten so long as his career as a coach is concerned.

(From left in the front row of the two photos)
Nobuyuki Takeuchi, grandson of the late Kimijima, Hiroji Ohkoso, son of Yoshinori Ohkoso, Mitsuko Aota, widow of the late Aota, and Tsutomu Wakamatsu.
(From left in the back row, photo left)
Tadao Koike, Ryozo Kato, and Hajime Toyokura
(From left in the back row, photo right)
Fumio Ohmura, president of Ichiko Baseball Club, Toshiharu Ueda (2003 Hall of Famer, manager of the Nippon Ham Fighters 1999-2000), Shigeru Sugishita, and Futoshi Nakanishi.

p.2   2009 Hall of Famers elected by the Players Selection Committee
                                                Teruaki Yonetani
                                                Director of the PSC

The 49th Players Election Committee elected Tsutomu Wakamatsu in the Players Division and Noboru Aota in the Experts Division. In the election in the Players Division, 316 members with an experience of reporting baseball for 15 years or more wrote in the names of 7 candidates at most on a ballot out of 30 eligible candidates prepared and listed by the Screening Committee. Wakamatsu received 288 ballots by a majority of 60 over the stipulated number of 228. In the Experts Division, the 46 electors consisting of directors of the PSC and the living Hall of Famers wrote in the names of 3 candidates on a ballot out of 10 eligible candidates prepared and listed by the Screening Committee. Aota received 31 ballots by a majority of 4 over the stipulated number of 27 and became the first successful candidate in this division.

Profile of Tsutomu Wakamatsu (photo left)

Born in Hokkaido on April 17, 1947. Graduating from Hokkai High School, he played for the Hokkaido Branch of Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Public Corporation (now NTT) before joining the Yakut Swallows in 1971 as the 3rd choice of the draft. Hitting .303 in his first year, he won the batting title in his 2nd year by hitting .329. He was a contact hitter and hit .300 or more 12 times in his 19 years with the Yakult Swallows, appearing in the Batting Top Ten 12 times. In 1978, he carried the team to the first victory in the Central League by hitting .341 BA, 17 home runs and 71 RBI and won the MVP.
After retiring in 1989, he coached the Y.S. (1993-4), managed its farm team (1995-6), and coached the Y.S. (1997-8). Succeeding Katsuya Nomura (1989 Hall of Famer), he managed the Y.S.(1999-2005). He led the team to victory in the Japan Series in 2001 and won the Shoriki Award. His career record as player: 2,062 G, 6,808 AT, 2,173 H, 884 RBI, 220 HR, .319 BA, the best as a Japanese player.

The Little Great Hitter, who was claimed to be 168 centimeters tall, was actually 2 centimeters less. He was not definite about becoming a pro baseball player. Besides he was already married when he was scouted by Futoshi Nakanishi, the batting coach of the Yakult Swallows. He recollected in his acceptance speech, “I told my wife to be patient with me for three years at least. If I have failed, I will be back and start a yakitori shop.” What made him decide on becoming a pro baseball player was Nakanishi’s remark, “Even a small person can be a great player in pro baseball if and only he strengthens the lower half of the body.” He was confident in that point because he was a skier in his school days at Rumoi in Hokkaido. He acquired the sense of “grasping the ground with the soles,” which has been handed on to Aoki, the clutch hitter of the present Yakult Swallows.
He is the first Hall of Famer who comes of Hokkaido. The Induction Ceremony is scheduled to be held in the first game of the All-Star Series at Sapporo Dome on July 24. It will make his triumphant return to homeland in glory.

Profile of Noboru Aota (photo right)

Born in Hyogo Prefecture on November 22, 1924 and died on November 4, 1997. In June, 1942, he joined the Tokyo Giants, and contributed to their victory by hitting .355. WWII prevented his baseball career from 1943 to 1945. Back to pro baseball in 1946, he played for the Hankyu Braves for two years. Upon rejoining the Tokyo Giants in 1948, the powerful batter nicknamed “jaja-uma,” or unruly bronco, competed with Makoto Kozuru (1980 Hall of Famer) and Kazuto Tsuruoka (1965 Hall of Famer) and won batting champion by a close margin at the end of the season and at the same time with Tetsuharu Kawakami (1965 Hall of Famer) for home runs (both hitting 25 and shared the title). After playing an active part as a leading home run batter for the Giants until 1952, he moved to the Taiyo Whales (1953-8) and then to the Hankyu Braves (1959).

His ability as a strategic coach and a mentor of young players was exemplified when he led the Hanshin Tigers under skipper Sadayoshi Fujimoto (1974 Hall of Famer ) to the pennant in 1962 and the Hankyu Braves under Yukio Nishimoto (1988 Hall of Famer) in 1972. He also coached the Taiyo Whales in 1972. Though he became the headcoach of the Tokyo Giants in the fall of 1979 (see page 1), he was obliged to resign his post in the preseason of 1980 due to a report in a weekly magazine which hinted at his involvement with a scandal.

Regrettably he was a victim of this incident. With his great achievements in pro baseball, he should have been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame much earlier. There were a great deal of sympathy for Mitsuko Aota when she said, with her eyes full of tears, in her acceptance speech on behalf of her deceased husband, “I wish I had seen him receive the certificate of induction by himself.” She is now blessed with 17 grandchildren, and three of them are playing boys’ baseball. It is to be expected that the second Aota will appear in the near future.

p.3    2009 Hall of Famer by the Special Selection Committee
                       Hisroshi Satoh, president of the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

 All of the 14 members of the Special Selection Committee met at Tokyo Dome on January 9 and discussed the candidacy of 10 eligible candidates prepared by the Screening Committee. They are entitled to vote in three candidates at most whom they regard as adequate to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. The names of the candidates who received one or more valid votes are as follows.

                 Yoshinori Ohkoso         12
                 Ichiro Kimijima             11
                 Masayuki Furuta             7
                 Kiro Osafune                  6
                 Osamu Ohmoto              4
  
The number of vote necessary to be elected is 11, that is three fourths or more of 14. Therefore, Yoshinori Ohkoso and Ichiro Kimijima were successfully elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame

Profile of Yoshinori Ohkoso  (photo left)

Born in Kagawa Prefecture on February 1, 1915, and died April 27, 2005. He set up Tokushima Meat Processing Company in Tokushima City in 1942. He merged it with Torishin Ham and named its trade name as Nippon Ham in 1963. In 1973, he got involved in pro baseball by purchasing Nittaku Home Flyers and renamed it as Nippon Ham Fighters. He became the first owner and appointed Osamu Mihara as president (1983 Hall of Famer, from whom he had got advice in acquiring the team). He was devoted to running the team and was famous as the owner who watched baseball games in person at ball parks most often among the pro baseball owners. He was obliged to resign his post in 2002, but reportedly he played a key role in moving his team to Sapporo as the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters in that year.
At the press conference on January 13, Toshiharu Ueda (2003 Hall of Famer), who managed the team from 1995 to 1999, made a congratulatory speech for the owner. “He hated to admit defeat and nothing had pleased him more than the victory in the Pacific League in 1981,” and revealed as an inside story how the owner was generous and quick in deciding to acquire such a big star as Hiromitsu Ochiai, who had won the triple crown three times.

Profile of Ichiro Kimijima  (photo right)

Born in Tochigi Prefecture on April 16, 1887, and died on April 25, 1975. At Ichiko (i.e., the First Higher School), he was the second baseman and played an active part in playing with rivaling teams, including Waseda and Keio Gijuku Universities. After graduating from Tokyo Imperial University, he entered the Bank of Japan in 1912 and held important positions successively. From 1940 to 1945, he was vice president of the Bank of Korea. His prewar career ousted him for a few years from public office after WWII.

For years, however, he was intent on searching the beginnings of baseball in Japan and spent some 20 years in colleting materials necessary to publish his findings. Following his two epoch-making articles which he wrote in the Bulletin of Gakushikai in 1971, he published “The Genesis of Baseball in Japan” in 1972 at the age of as old as 85. As Fumio Ohmura, president of Ichiko Baseball Club, said in his congratulatory speech on the press conference on January 13, it was he who has pinpointed the site and the year in which baseball was played for the first time in Japan. Relying on the pioneering works by the late Saburo Saito, he concluded that baseball was first played in Japan at the present site of Gakushi Kaikan in Tokyo in 1872, not in 1873 which had used to be accepted before. (NB:The fact that a monument to the birthplace of baseball was erected there in 2003 testifies that his theory is the established one now.)

p.4    Much to See, Much to Enjoy (29)   At the Baseball Library in the Baseball Museum
                                         Hiroo Maki, sustaining member of the BHFM

My memory of the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum is mostly of the Baseball Library, not of many exhibits
on display there. I first visited its library some 30 years ago when Korakuen Stadium was still in existence. My purpose was to search the records for the sake of an imaginary baseball game which I was trying to devise. In those days, the museum was not housed within the Tokyo Dome, but was a detached building near Korakuen Stadium. Times were not what they are now. Index cards were all written in by hand and there were no copying machines. All the data had to be written down, if necessary. Frankly the museum was not convenient by any standard. But I enjoyed both searching data and playing my imaginary baseball game.

Afterwards I got a new job in Osaka and naturally I was through with enjoying baseball game and searching data on baseball. One day my old baseball game pal wrote to me saying that he wanted to sell my baseball game kit. He was living in Tokyo and the Sho Project from which he planned to publish my item was also in Tokyo, so it was hard for me living in Osaka to collaborate with him living so apart. But he was a man of action and our  “All-Star Baseball Game” was put on sale in 1992.

While preparing for my kit, I had once an encounter (it is not an exaggeration to say it was a life-changing one) with Tetsuya Usami, who was reputed to be god of baseball. He was the head of NPB’s BIS Data Center which was stationed in a corner of the Baseball Museum. I knew him by his famous record books, but it was the first time that I met him in person, and it was indeed an impressive meeting. After that, every time I came up to Tokyo, I called on him and I visited the Baseball Museum more and more often. We enjoyed talking together, the subjects spanning many topics, like rabbit balls, new evaluation standards (something like sabermetrics of today), and how to use pitchers in a game.

I am of eccentric character, and I was often critical of Usami, my senior in baseball, but he was always tolerant towards me. I hope he’ll excuse my saying that he is also eccentric like me, but I must admit that he was broad-minded enough to listen to criticism, if it was a reasonable one. When I complained that with all his splendid works, he was not eager to train the younger generation, he thwarted my criticism by saying, “There are no young people who dare to challenge me. But if I have any rival, I am confident that I can beat him.”  Much later on, I felt deeply ashamed to realize what he meant when I was told by one of my seniors, “What a fool you are! He really wanted to say that he was instructing you then and there.”

As my search on baseball records deepened, I felt more and more dissatisfied with my older baseball game kit. I made improvement upon improvement on it, and at present, “Impact Baseball” is being published at my own expense and I keep up with its improvement. Frequenting the baseball library has brought me into Yakyu Bunka  Gakkai (i.e., Baseball Culture Society) and Association of American Baseball Research. I made the acquaintance of a lot of people there. I will be there often from now on. I sincerely hope I will be able to chat on baseball with my kind readers

 NB  It is very interesting that there existed in Japan such a baseball fan as the above-            mentioned Tetsuya Usami who was enjoying imaginary baseball game in 1950s, much        earlier than Henry, The hero of Robert Coover’s “The Universal Baseball
       Association, Inc” (1968)

p.5  Inductees Remembered (22)    A Memory of My Grandfather
                       Momoko Oka, granddaughter of Yoriyasu Arima, 1969 Hall of Famer

It was probably in 1938 when I was a fifth grader in elementary school that my grandfather took me to Korakuen Stadium for the first time. I was the only child of his daughter and her husband, i.e. my father. He was too busy to go out with me. They lived in Yotsuya, halfway between grandfather’s house in Ogikubo and Korakuen. He often stopped by at Yotsuya and killed time before going to Korakuen Stadium. So it was not too much trouble for him to pick up and take me there..
My grandfather and grandmother got married when they were 19 and 17. When my mother, i.e. their daughter, was about 17, they took a walk along Ginza, my grandfather hand in hand with her. My grandmother, walking a little behind them, accosted to him smiling, “Let go of your hand, dear. People just passed by muttered, ‘I understand THIS (meaning walking with a young girl) Is the fashion now!’” He took her words either as a homage to his handsome look or as a flattering remark to his beautiful daughter. I was born when he was as young as about 42. Naturally it gave him a pleasant emotional damage to be called, “grandfather.”

My grandfather belonged to the rowing club in his university days, but he took his six children to the zoo and to various sporting events; boat races, baseball games, tennis matches and others. As for me, I sat beside him behind the backstop and enjoyed watching baseball games in the playing field. It was not his way to tell his granddaughter rules or names of players. He left it for me to learn them by and by. I had never seen games at Susaki Stadium (notorious for the sea water flowing into the outfield at high tide) and Kamiigusa Stadium (NB These two stadiums were used for pro baseball games before Korakuen Stadium was completed in September, 1937). I heard it said that my father was the owner of the Tokyo Senators franchised at Kamiigusa Stadium. In my schooldays when there were few entertainments, I would spend every Sunday afternoon at Korakuen Stadium. I was brought up strictly by my parents, but my relationship with my grandfather were rather free, and with the consent of my parents, he often took me out to where he thought fit to and let me see, hear and decide on everything. He himself was brought up indulgently. Sometimes he enjoyed playing a stunt with children of his servants and he took his free life for granted.

On looking back, it was fun for me to be taken to the locker room (closed to women, probably) after the game and see men in the nude for the first time in my life. For a girl with no brothers, it was a rare and perplexing experience. Owing to my grandfather, I saw in action almost all of famous players of prewar days. I was present at the game when pitcher Sawamura pitched returning from the front, and also at another game when, drafted again, he made a farewell speech to the spectators. I still remember names of then umpires, managers and main players of each team, but it was a great pity that most of them were killed in the war and never returned to stadiums. 

After WWII, my grandfather was detained in Sugamo Prison for eight months as Class-A war criminal. After released, he spent a secluded life, having nothing to do with baseball. His hobby was to grow flowers in the garden and invite his grandchildren on his every birthday, treating them to gorgeous lunches. It may have been all he could do in such a circumstance. Though he shunned publicity, he assumed the post as director of the Japan Racing Association on the strong recommendation of Ichiro Kono. Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, and took the trouble to renovate the main stands of Nakayama racecourse. He had apparently no knowledge of horse racing. He jokingly said the only connection with it is that a part of his name,(u)ma, means horses. But I heard him say there cheerfully, “I want to make horse racing not as an object of betting for limited people, but as an entertainment enjoyed by the whole family. I am thinking of starting a race by horses selected by fans’ voting like the All-Star Games in baseball.”

In my conjecture, as what he thought he had done for the country eventually led to the defeat of the country, he intended to conclude his life by doing a thing which will serve the country. He looked very happy and told his new project intently to me who was always with him. On December 23, 1956, his dream came true and the Nakayama
Grand Prix was held, but on January 9, 1957, he died never to see the first Arima Memorial held later in the same  year which would become one of the representative horse races in Japan. I am now around 80 years old, but I am proud to say I enjoy watching a lot of sports on television owing to a good introduction by my grandfather.

p.6  Rara avis (65)  New baseball iroha card game
                                          Takahiro Sekiguchi, co-curator

Let me introduce one of the exhibits at the current exhibition, “Children’s Play and Baseball,” which is to last until Sunday, February 1, 2009.
There are 88 cards divided into two equal sets, one for “reading” and one for “taking.” On each card of the reading set is a senryu* with 5-7-5 syllables in three lines describing, starting with a particular syllable, the characteristics of a baseball player. For example, “mu-cha-ku-cha-ni/ fu-t-te-A-O-TA-wa/ hi-t-to-su-ru,”, or “Swings wildly, and Aota connects for a hit.” While on each of the taking set is a particular syllable and a picture of a baseball player described on a reading card. The above card is to be matched with the taking card with “mu” and a picture of AOTA. (See the two cards left below) Aota, as you can see on page 2 of this Newsletter, is the very Noboru Aota, one of 2009 Hall of Famers.
The picture cards are spread in front of the players on the floor. One person reads the Haiku cards in random order. The object of the game is to spot and seize the corresponding picture card as the Haiku is being read. The player holding the most cards at the end of the game wins.
Each senryu describes the characteristics of a baseball player so vividly that it was supposedly written by baseball reporters covering games in action. Picture cards were made in black and white and colored later but they are so colorful that they cannot be believed to have been made some 60 years ago. No television existed in those days, so children seem to have enjoyed this baseball iroha card game, imagining their heroes from these colorful pictures on the cards.
It can be surmised from pictures of Aota (the Tokyo Giants from 1948) and Bessho (the Nankai Hawks until 1948)
that these cards were for 1948. They will continue to be on display at regular exhibition when the Exhibition is over.
   *senryu: popular version of the traditional haiku without reference to seoson

 Library Note       Baseball Books in the Meiji Era
                                                    Akiko Ogawa, co-librarian

We are proud that the Baseball Museum started in 1959 with a lot of books published in the Meiji and Taisho eras.
We have kept on collecting old books, but many of them are not available now so that they have become indispensable ones. Let me introduce one of them, The Secret Essence of Baseball, written by Gantetsu Hashido, one of the first Hall of Famers for 1959. (The Sports World Co., November 11, 1911; 176 pages , 15 cm x 9.3 cm.)
It is the author’s second book in sequel to The Latest Baseball Strategy, published in 1905 after he and his Waseda University team came back from a baseball tour to the U.S.A. in 1905.

The book in question is divided into three parts: Body, Supplement, and Rules in both English and Japanese. In the preface he says, “Many baseball books are available now, but most of them are too complicated to understand.
 This book was written for new baseball students. It is to be hoped that it will make a key to their understanding.”
Explanations of rules and fielding (“Who are suitable to each position?”) are written in short and readable sentences so that it will be of interest not only to beginners but to general readers. Probably the most interesting article is the one by pitcher Christy Mathewson, 373 winner with the New York Giants in early 1900s, who tells about his pitching, explaining how to pitch fast and breaking balls. Undoubtedly it is worth reading even now.
Other books available at the Baseball Library are: An Introduction to Baseball, 3rd ed., Isoo Abe, 1909, Baseball and Cricket, Motohiko Tsuda, 1899, and other books published in the Meiji era.

p.7  A   Sustaining members for 2008 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 Players Selection Committee 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 (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
    (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 Yamaguchi.

B   News from the Baseball Museum

     1) 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
           
     NOTICE: Due to renovation work, the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum will be
                  closed for a week from Monday, February 2, 2009 to Monday, February 9,
                  2009. However, contact through telephone is available throughout
                 the closed days.

       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, from February to April, the museum will be closed on:
                           February 2 ~ 9, 16, and 23; March 16 and 23; April 6, 13, 20 and 27.
 

  1. Editor’s Note  Team Japan will begin camping for 2009 WBC in Miyazaki on February 16. Exhibition games between four teams participating in the 1st Round will begin on February 24.  The 1st Round will begin at Tokyo Dome on March 5.
    Hurrah ! Team Japan and skipper Hara!

p.8  Essay (35)    Nemoto has no parallels in baseball
                           Hiroki Morimoto, Western Japan Shimbun

 On entering 2009, the year of the Ox, we have soon hear of spring camp. It is commonly said that the more we advance in years, the quicker the year goes by. After I became 50 years old, I have realized year by year how true the common saying is. It is not the time to tell about the New Year’s Day, but every time I see the New Year’s cards, I think of Mrs. Takako Nemoto, widow of Rikuo Nemoto, 2001 Hall of Famer. She has good handwriting. In his day with the Seibu Lions and the Daiei Hawks (now the SoftBank Hawaks), he used to send about 2,000 New Year’s cards. She wrote all of their addresses in a good hand. It is an overwhelming work. As for me, 100 is the maximum number. After he died, the number has decreased naturally, but still she sends New Year’s cards in a good hand to the people concerned.

By the coming April, exactly 10 years will have passed since he died at the age of 73. When he was playing an active role in the front office, he was nicknamed “behind-the-scene manipulator of baseball” or “special submarine.” Apparently he was a stranger to a friend of just causes. He had a somewhat peculiar look in his eyes and weird features. But it was evidently Nemoto who gave Hawks fans in Kyushu the pleasure of winning in baseball. When I was on the Daiei Hawks’ beat, he became their manager at the end of the 1992 season. I was warned by my seniors to be careful about his unpredictable behavior. But he did not do anything special at that time. There were no trade of players nor imports of foreign players. His purpose was to make his players realize how strong or weak they really were. In 1993, they were far down in the cellar with 45 wins, 80 losses and 5 ties, a little better than his prediction (40 wins). It was time for action. He did a big trading of players and acquired the rising outfielder Koji Akiyama. As is well known, later he invited Sadaharu Oh as their skipper and succeeded imaking a winning team.

Nemoto has left a lot of unique sayings. He learned most of them from his friends, but they were so enlightening that they sound of his own making. 
For example;

1) To have the sulks is to lead to self-destruction,
2) Anger lasts only 15 minutes  (When scolded, be patient without retorting. ) 
3 ) The more you succeed in life, the more modest you must be 
      (Be a shepherd, not a master) 
4) Work to live, (not to live to work) 
5) Unsettled course of action is welcome (Don’t stick to one action) 
6) The apex means the time to withdraw 
7) You can’t feel frustrated if you did your best 
8) Young men have a destructive power to the future 
9) A meeting without a definite purpose cannot last 30 minutes

I must admit I was not able to understand them well when I covered the Daiei Hawks, but in advancing years I think they have become more and more comprehensible to me. There are no persons like him in pro baseball today. No doubt he was a man of unusual character, and I cannot foresee the appearance of another Nemoto, but he himself said in his life, “The fact that such a person existed means that another will eventually come out.”

 

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