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Articles in NEWSLETTER, Vol.19, No.3

p.1  Induction Ceremony for the 2009 Hall of Famers Part II  ~ At Gakushi-Kaikan ~
                                                          Hiroshi Satou, President

The Induction Ceremony for the late Ichiro Kimijima was held at Gakushi-Kaikan (the birthplace of baseball in Japan) in Tokyo on Friday, September 18, 2009, with Kazuo Koguchi, a member of the Players Selection Committee, presiding.  (For the other three Hall of Famers, please refer to Newsletter 19-2.)

At Ichiko (i.e., the First Higher School), he was the second baseman and played an active role in competing against rival teams headed by Waseda and Keio Gijuku universities. Later in life, he was ardent in researching the early days of baseball in Japan. In 1971, he wrote an epoch-making article in the Bulletin of Gakushikai in which he affirmed that baseball was introduced to Japan in 1872 and that it was first played at the present site of Gakushi-Kaikan in Tokyo. In 1972 he published The Genesis of Baseball in Japan,  a compilation of the researches he had done over long years, which helped induct him into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

The Induction Ceremony was attended by some 50 people consisting of his family, living members of Ichiko Nine, and graduates of his alma mater, former Utsunomiya Middle School. Shozo Kato, Chairman of the BHFM, presented a replica of Kimijima’s plaque to Nobuyuki Takeuchi, his grandson (photo left above), and a bouquet to  Kazuko Kohzuki, his second daughter (photo right above). A commemorative photo (photo below) was taken with his family surrounding Chairman Kato. The ceremony ended with an acceptance speech by Takeuchi.

                                                      
p.2    Report on Summer Events.

      The Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum had about 36,000 visitors this summer. As in the past years, three events catering to elementary and junior high school students were held at the library and the Baseball Hall of Fame. Hopefully these events proved entertaining and informative to the next generations of baseball fans, in particular to elementary school students.

  1. Baseball Study by Elementary and Junior High School Students

            Saturday, July 18 through Monday, August 31    Mainly at the Baseball Library

    This event, which started in 2002, aims at helping them conduct their independent study and have hands-on experience for the summer vacation. Items prepared for them were artifacts ~bats, gloves, balls,  and various books on baseball. Also a process of ball making was shown on the screen.
    The breakdown of the diagram below shows in which field of study 302 young students (15 more than last year, and almost 70% of them are 3rd to 5th graders) made their independent study. Their topics spanned history (84), terminology (29), stadiums 24), equipment (159) , records (10) , and others (38).
   

   2. From 2002, we have had a kind cooperation of Mizuno Corporation in holding a demonstration of bat making. This year it was held three times each on Tuesday, August 18 and Wednesday, August 19 at the Baseball Hall of Fame. Craftsman Watanabe, explaining three kinds of wood material, answered many questions from the floor and let four elementary students try their hands at filing a bat at each demonstraton.

  3. Instead of hands-on experience of making a glove as conducted until last year, an event of ball making was held in the same format and the fortunate 20 pairs of child-parent groups took part in it on Thursday, August 20. They were selected from as many as 169 applications in the middle of July. Under the guidance of three craftsmen from Mizuno Industry Ayama, they completed a ball in an hour and took it home.

p.3  Inductees Remembered (25)    A Memory of My Father
                  Koichi Yamashita, eldest son of Minoru Yamashita, 1987 Hall of Famer

First I would like to dedicate my humble poem to my dear father.

In a legend-rich expanse, at the foot of ranging Rokko Mountains,
At the precinct of Ikuta Shrine, he would lose himself in playing baseball
Leaving an entrusted tot alone in a short coat tied to an old tree nearby.
Later in Taisho and Showa eras, a hard-hitting baseball monster, 
Called the greatest left-handed slugger, slammed notorious dead balls
With a powerful swing twisting his hip in an agile motion, sending them
Far into the distance with centrifugal force, describing a beautiful parabola.
A hero, a Japanese Babe Ruth, at Koshien and Meiji Jingu stadiums.

In Dalian he played for Manchuria Baseball Club, which
As the poet Takayuki Kiyooka depicts with nostalgia in his prize-winning novel
Vied for supremacy with Manchuria Jitsugyo at Dalian stadium.
The long-ball hitter played for the Hankyu Braves for a few years in 1930s.
His brilliant days at Nishinomiya stadium seem to have faded out of his minds.

In a turmoil of changes during and after the war. 
Being honest to a fault he was against the trend of the times.
His way of life reminds us of eccentric characters described by woman novelist
Kuniko Mukoda. Soon after the Heisei era set in,
He passed away after spending a clumsy, stormy life.
His rare genius had been clearly perceived by the 6th Kikugoro,
A famous Kabuki actor, who patronized him dearly.
Out of sight, out of mind, but however transitory the age is,
There are not a few people across the country now who applaud him enthusiastically
As when he entered the batter’s box with a shy cough in his days.
 
He returned home in the midst of the Pacific War after being thrown out into the sea but narrowly escaping death when his troopship was torpedoed by American airplanes.
It is not well known that after the war he coached four high school baseball teams
(3 public and 1 private ones). The coaching period at each school was short and it did
not always bring about good results. The only exception was an unknown public school team, which, after a mere few months of his coaching, advanced through the preliminary tournament, only lost in the final. Nothing but his old fame induced some people to ask my father to take the job. It was not such an organizational request as exists today which is made by the school, alumni association and PTA combined. Anyway he did his best, helped by his  good luck. Still less known is the fact that when Japan was still economically unrecovered after the war, he coached a women’s pro baseball team in Higashi Osaka. Surely there were people who expressed their sorrow at my father’s death. I remember feeling relieved to think that, in the days of extremely checkered fortunes (our family were at the depth of poverty), my father had done his small efforts to contribute to baseball at the base of developing baseball world.

  One day in winter in the passed Showa era
  Pandora’s box full of wintry days of Showa was closed
  Like a warrior I feel the pathos of the world
  A dream of baseball in silence
  An Illusory east wind gently caressed my cheeks
  Reminding me of Dalian Port and acacia flowers

(NB The translator humbly admits that the original poem is so difficult that there might be some mistranslations.)

 

p.4  Rara avis (68)  Earliest books in Japan on sports
                                           Miwako Atarashi, Co-curator

“Outdoor Games” (in English) and “Western Outdoor Games” (in Japanese) are said to be the first earliest books on Western sports published in Japan.

“Outdoor Games,” was written by F.W. Strange of Dai Gaku Yobimon (now Tokyo University) and published by Z.P.Maruya & Co (now Maruzen) in 1883.  Strange is an Englishman, but he is reported to have played baseball in Japan. The book deals with 17 games, 14 kinds of athletic sports, and two items on training and the laws of athletics. For reference, he cites “The Boy’s Own Book,” “Every Boy’s Book,” and “Spalding’s Baseball Guide” In describing “Base Ball,” he quotes parts of rules in “SBG.” He does not mention from which edition he does, but it can be surmised that he refers to the 1882 edition, the latest available one, because (1) the pitcher stands 50 feet from the home base (from 1881 in America), (2) the batsman becomes a base-runner on seven balls (1881~83, 1886 in America), (3) Strange uses an expression in the 1882 edition, “…instantly after (seven balls have been called by the umpire), not “when” as in the previous editions.

“Western Outdoor Games” was written and edited by Yasuhiro Shimomura and published in 1885, one month earlier than “Outdoor Games,” written and edited by Gendo Tsuboi and Seigyo Tanaka, thereby the former being credited as the first book on sports written in Japanese. The editor says in the preface that his book is mainly based on Strange’s OG and has referred to other books and summarized their descriptions. It treats on 27 games (26 of which are the same as in OG, with croquet added newly), being divided into 3 divisions: exercise without apparatus, exercise with balls, and competitive games. All of the games are new to Japanese people, so the editor takes a special care to name them in Japanese, sometimes likening them to traditional Japanese games. Base Ball, for example, is explained as “dakyu oni-gokko, or batting ball tag”

“Base Ball” occupies 20 pages in the book as compared with 9 pages for cricket, and much more minutely explained than in OG. But the two contents differ greatly, while there is little difference in the contents of other  games between the two books. Instead of a diagram in OG, it sets the pitcher’s box as 4 ft by 6 ft ( and the distance to the catcher as 45 ft.. On checking the American rules, these stipulations are found to be observed in 1867 and 1868 (the first year of Meiji era). Why did the author adopt the rules some 15 years older than those adopted by Strange? How did he come to know these rules? What are “other books,” either in Japanese or English, mentioned in the author’s preface ? Was he himself or his acquaintances accessible to annual Spalding’s Baseball Guide in those days? The earliest days of baseball are full of mystery indeed.

 

p.5  Column: Much to See, Much to Enjoy (32)
         Usami, “a god of baseball records,” 
              ordained that I should frequent the CL and PL offices
                                   Mamoru Maetoh,  Sustaining member of the BHFM

Tetsuya Usami died in May in 2009 at the age of 76. He became an official scorekeeper of the Pacific League in 1956. Entering the Hochi Shimbun in 1964, he serialized “Record Room” and ended up as head of the record division. One of his famous books is “A Comprehensive Baseball Record,” which earned him a nickname of “a god of record.” In 1989 when BIS Data Headquarters was set up by the NPB, he became its first chief, and worked for systemization of records by computers.

I first met him in 1968 and ever since until his death he was not only my boss but an affectionate mentor in work. In this connection let me say that it was the fourth year of the Yomiuri Giants’ so-called V-9 and the rookie Shigeru Takada, now manager of Tokyo Yakult Swallows, won MVP in the Japan Series. Among many fond memories, the most unforgettable one is that I was allowed to write for serial “Record Room” for the first time after four years of helping my seniors with subsidiary work. Consulting scorecards I almost burned the midnight oil in trying to write interesting episodes. I thought I was doing according to his instruction, “Think. Scorecards tell everything,” but Usami used to turn down my draft simply saying, “No, no, no.”  I was 12 years junior to 0him, and I could not make out what he meant to say.

One day, he said to me, “Go to the CL and PL offices from tomorrow.”  Probably he meant to say, ”You make no progress whatever. People at their record-keeping sections will give you some good hints.”  Both offices were at the Asahi Building in Ginza, the CL office being on the third floor and the PL on the ninth floor. All of the official scorers and statiscians stationed there had watched hundreds of games, and were kind and cooperative with my research and their response to my talk proved a good criterion of my draft. In the afternoon, I visited the offices almost every day, except their (and my) off-days, and coming back at night, I wrote my draft for the serial.

In the following years, I kept going to the offices, though less frequently, and with the help of Yoshio Igarashi, who later became the head of the PL record-keeping section, I was able to amass interesting data, for example, most three hits or more in a game, 251 games by Isao Harimoto (incidentally he has at least one hit for 20 or more consecutive games three times, as compared with once by Nagashima and Oh); a home run by a lead-offl batter in the first inning, 43 by Yutaka Fukumoto; most home runs in the extra innings, 14 by Katsuya Nomura; Furuya Hideo was the first to hit a home run in every batting order, and so on. In the meantime, Usami had become lenient toward my “slow progress.” I was lauded by Isao Chiba, the head of the PL record-keeping section, for my article on “ most appearances, in the fourth batting order; Katsuya Nomura, 2,259 games”  and guaranteed by Kiyoshi Fujimori, the head of the CL record-keeping section, on “most consecutive fielding chances without an error by third base man, 214 by Shigeo Nagashima in 1969.”  How glad I was to hear their remarks!

Last but not least, I was amazed at the rapidness with which these official scorers gave their answers to my questions on baseball rules. They referred to the appropriate article in the bulky rulebook without any difficulty.
Try asking them any question you have puzzled over, and they will answer instantly.

 

p.6  Library Note       Reports on the Meiji Shrine Games
                                                    Taku Chinone, co-librarian

The first Meiji Shrine Games were held in 1924 mainly at the newly-completed National Athletic Stadium. It was the same year in which the National Invitational High School (then middle school) Baseball Tournament was started. The MSG, a comprehensive sports meeting, started as an annual meeting, but changed to a biennial one in 1929, and was held annually for the last five years, totaling 14 times in 20 years until 1943. Both its name and host organization changed with the change of the times. The number of events held was 15 at first, including baseball, athletics, kendo and judo, and 22 at the most. Baseball was played at every meeting, except at the last meeting in 1943.

The first baseball event was treated on 59 pages in The Report on the First Meiji Shrine Games. It was held on three days from October 31 to November 2 in the tournament format in two divisions; university-based clubs and middle schools. Three venues were used. (Meiji Shrine Stadium was completed in 1926.) In the first division, 6 clubs consisting of six universities of Tokyo Big6 University League participated and Waseda defeated Tokyo in the final game with the brilliant pitching by Goro Taniguchi, a future Baseball Hall of Famer. In the second division, 8 teams were selected from participants in the National Middle School Baseball Tournament in the summer, and Waseda Jitsugyo defeated Matsumoto Commercial School, its runner-up, in the final, which proved to be their first nationwide victory.

In the diagram below (regrettably deleted in the English synopsis), details of 13 baseball events ranging from 1924 to 1942 are illustrated. Let me jump to conclude this short essay by saying that 14 reports on the Meiji Shrine Games are available at the baseball library in the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

  
p.7 A Sustaining members for 2009 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. 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 1959-2009 (Published in March, 2009)
    (New individual members)
  7. Pinned Badge(New junior members)

        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.

B   News from the Baseball Museum

  1. Virtual batting game renewed ~ At bat against Darvish and Tateyama

The popular virtual batting game has been renewed for the first time in 9 years, and the following eight leading pro pitchers pitch in the screen against you in the batter’s box.
They all appeared in the first game of the 2009 All-Star Series at Sapporo Dome on July 24, 2009.

Central League   Shohei Tateyama,  Tokyo Yakult Swallows
                         Tetsuya Yamaguchi, Yomiuri Giants
                         Yudai Kawai,      Chunichi Dragons
                         Daisuke Miura,     Yokohama BayStars
Pacific League   Yu Darvish,        Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters
                       Masahiro Tanaka,   Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles
                       Takayuki Kishi,     Saitama Seibu Lions
                       Hisashi Takeda,     Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters

The photo shows the virtual batting in action. The pitcher in the screen winds up and pitches his ball to the at the doll catcher squatting in the back of the plate. When the batter wings his or bat just in time, a keen batting sound is heard from above. If the batter misses the ball, a deep sound comes up from the doll catcher to show that the ball is right in the catcher’s mitt.

2)  Changes in officials

    New councilor          Kunio Shimoda, Secretary general of NPB
    Retiring councilor     Kazuo Hasegawa

   3)   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.
            NB. In other words, from November to January, the museum will be closed on:
                November 2, 9, 16 and 30; December 7, 14, 21, and 28~31;
                January 1, 18 and 25
                               
4) Editor’s Note  The process of election of 2010 Hall of Famers are just under way.
                        The date for their announcement has not been decided yet, but it is                         scheduled to be held in  the middle of January in 2010.

p.8  Essay (38)   Foreign Hall of Famers Expected
                           Yoshifumi Ejiri, member of the Players Selection Committee

Ichiro Suzuki of the Seattle Mariners became the first player in the major league history to get 200 hits in nine consecutive years, which, as is widely admitted, has made it certain that he would be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. He will be widely acclaimed in Japan if he becomes a Hall of Famer due to his splendid performances in Major League Baseball. These are such days of globalization that it is not going to far to say that one or more Japanese players have played with almost all of the 30 Major League clubs. Supposing that Ichiro is inducted into the American Hall of Fame, the same should be true in the case of a distinguished foreign player who has made a great contribution to baseball in Japan.

Randy Bass played for the Hanshin Tigers for six years, and was twice batting champion and home run king, and led the CL in RBI twice and won the Triple Crown twice. He is called the greatest enlisted foreign player, but he had failed to be elected into the Hall of Fame with a small margin. Daryl Spencer played for the Hankyu Braves was famous for his furious, a-la-MLB sliding besides his batting. Don Blasingame, who played for and managed the Nankai Hawks, introduced “thinking baseball,” which is called to have set a good example to Katsuya Nomura for his I(information)-D(ata) baseball when he managed the Yakult Swallows. Without Alex Ramirez who batted fourth for the Yomiuri Giants, , they would not have won the pennant for three consecutive years in the C.L. for the first time after their V-9. He became the batting champion this year, leading the C.L in home runs once and in RBI three time in his nine years of career in Japan with the Yakult Swallows (7 yr) and the Yomiuri Giants (2 yr). 

Foreign players have become indispensable more than ever for pro baseball in Japan as Japanese players are in the Major Leagues. Time ought to come when it is natural to see foreign players who have made a great contribution to baseball in Japan inducted into Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame. It is prerequisite, however, for each an every Japanese baseball club to make a painstaking effort to find highly competent players like Randy Bass. There are now too many baseball clubs who are content with bartering the foreign players who have played in Japan, not running a risk of seeking for prospective players from abroad. It is out of the question that a certain club had recourse to “monetary usurpation” of a great player from another club. They are setting a trap for themselves by such easy-going way of procurement of foreign players who in turn are apt to take advantage of the poor (for them good) situation. As things stand now, there will be none of foreign players who will aspire after a Japanese dream and become such a great player as to be inducted into the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame.

As for the selection of the prospective Hall of Famers, I am anxious to see great players and persons inducted into the Hall of Fame in their life. I am afraid it has been an unwritten rule that a seniority-based selection be observed, deriving from an idea that induction into the Hall of Fame is like induction into a shrine. I must say that there have been many cases where baseball greats were missed for failing to be inducted in their life. To cite a few, two 2009 Hall of Famers; Noboru Aota who was nicknamed “Jaja-uma, or wild mustang” and Yoshinori Ookoso, former owner of the Nippon Ham Fighters. It is only for a year that I was on the Nippon Ham Fighters beat, but I was surprised to find that Ookoso knew the names of all of his players including minors, and that he went to see not only their games but practices. He was as good as his word when he said, “My players are all like my children. They are entrusted by their parents, so they must be taken good care of. I must frankly say that there are no such passionate owners now. In covering the Owners’ Meeting, I am often disappointed to find them without vision for the future, only intent on money making. It must be admitted that there are no baseball greats among them who are worthy to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

I sincerely think that future induction into the Hall of Fame should not end in simply garnering a personal honor, but that their induction should become a good incentive for the active baseball people in general, and give an opportunity for future Hall of Famers to do something for the baseball world in return for their honor.

 

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