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Articles in NEWSLETTER, Vol.20, No.1

p.1  Kuwata Talks on Baseball
                                     Hiroshi Satou, President

On Wednesday, March 17, 2010, Masumi Kuwata talked on his baseball career to four junior high school students from Soka City in Saitama Prefecture at the reception room in the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. He was invited as a speaker by the All Japan Baseball Foundation/Japan Professional Baseball Alumni Club.

The AJBF/JPBAC has been conducting a campaign to promote pro baseball through a project “Dreams and Future Career,” by which the organization offers a meeting with former pro baseball players to elementary and junior high school students who have pro baseball in prospect in their future. Its aims are to get students to have a deeper knowledge of pro baseball players and pro baseball itself, and to make them understand the importance of striving to achieve a dream, thus giving them an incentive to consider their future career.

The BHFM has been cooperating with this project by offering the Baseball Hall of Fame or its reception room as a meeting place. The project began in 2007 and Kiyoshi Hatsushiba, Tatsuya Ozeki, Kunio Jonouchi, Hideyuki Awano, and Shozo Etoh have talked to would-be pro baseball players. The attendees had privilege of making a tour of the Baseball Museum afterwards.

Kuwata said, “In considering your future, it is important to think that you are a valuable asset in life. There are joys and sorrows in life. Baseball world is an epitome of life and has pleasures and hardships. Even a great batter can hit safely only three times out of ten, that is, he fails to hit seven times out of ten. If you are afraid of committing a failure, you cannot even have a modest result. Be courageous to get over failures.”

In the questions and answers that followed, he emphatically said, “You should approach everything with a strong will. Use your head. It is no use to practice baseball merely for a long time. Be efficient in using time. In school life, study and play are equally important.” These impressive words were as might be expected from a man who has a distinguished baseball career behind him. (He had pitched for PL High School, the Yomiuri Giants, and the Pittsburgh Pirates, and recently got master’s degree at Waseda University.)

It was pleasant to see the students leave the room in jubilant mood. They were given an unforgettable lecture and, to their joy, a baseball autographed by the great pitcher. After the lecture, he perused several baseball magazines at the baseball library, which gave me an impression that he would continue to study baseball.

pp.2-3  Column: Much to See, Much to Enjoy (34)  
           Scorebooks sent to Cooperstown---In memory of a dentist who was called an            unrivaled authority on MLB
                               Satoshi Imazato  (Eldest son of Jun Imazato)

One day in December 2009, I got off the bus in upstate Cooperstown after a four-hour’s ride from New York City. What brought me to this mecca of baseball is not simply a usual pilgrimage; I had it in mind to see my father’s mementoes in the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

My father was a dentist in Nishiwaki in Hyogo Prefecture, but he was versed in MLB and contributed a great deal to the interchange of pro baseball between Japan and the U.S. (As to the details which made a mere dentist such a unique Japanese who would receive free passes from the Commissioner’s Office admitting him to all of the MLB stadiums, please refer to my articles in Newsletter Vol.18, Nos.2-3, 2008.) In his days at a dentistry college in 1946, he would listen to the report of MLB games on shortwave FEN and fill out a scorebook. He kept on this maniac habit and it amounted to as many as 200 volumes. I barely knew what he was doing, but it was recorded that some of them were put on display in Cooperstown. About a year ago, some volunteers in Nishiwaki set out to rearrange the achievements of my dead father, and I felt myself obliged to ascertain if his valuable donations to the NBHFM were still kept there.

It was immediately before Christmas. The town was quiet and there were only a few visitors to the Museum (photo 1). I was warmly welcomed (photo 2) by Erik Strohl (senior director, exhibits and collections) and Jim Gates (librarian). I was shown around the 3-storied museum with a splendid array of exhibits, and then into the securely-guarded storage. Bats, gloves, caps and other artifacts used by great players were kept there, and I was blessed with a rare privilege to take in hand such historic items as Babe Ruth’s uniform and Lou Gehrig’s bat (photo 3). Then in the archives, I was shown a contract with “Shoeless” Joe Jackson and other important documents in the history of MLB. I listened intently to Mr. Gates, who explained minutely how to preserve those valuable materials.

When I was shown into the library, I suddenly stopped and caught my breath. Displayed in order on the table were no other than my father’s donations entitled “Dr. Jun Imazato Collection”—scorebooks, newspaper clippings, and snapshots taken with players. The eight scorebooks recording all the MLB games broadcast in Japan in 1961 were
kept intact for the past 48 years (photo 4).  How moved I was by Mr. Gates’ remark, “We are glad indeed that a son of a donor has visited the donee after a long interval.”

In the previous year, he donated a whole record of MLB games of the year in scorebooks to the Sporting News. President Taylor Spink was amazed at his feat and seemed to have publicized my father far and wide. In 1958 when the St. Louis Cardinals came to Japan in a goodwill baseball series, he was interviewed in the stadium by a radio reporter from the U.S. Reportedly he introduced my father at length back in the U.S.

With those scorebooks just before me, I was fully convinced that they were the first and secure steps in the history of exchange of pro baseball between the two countries. My trip to meet my father ended with my heart full of emotion. I left Cooperstown wishing for the prosperity of baseball and further friendship between the two countries through baseball.
(Acknowledgements: I want to express my deep thanks to Mr. Ryuichi Suzuki and Ms. Miwako Atarashi who gave me much assistance in my trip to Cooperstown.) 
 

p.3  Sustaining members for 2010 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 ticketis also valid for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y.
  3. 5 courtesy tickets for non-members (Individual membershi
    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 2009 (published in March, 2009)
    (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.
                Menbership  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 can be made by
                 1) filling in an application form prepared in the museum and hand it
                             to the person in charge at the Management.
                  2) calling for an application form by telephone and sending it back
                              to the museum
         Application can also be made by contacting the following.
            http://www.baseball-museum.or.jp /museum/member/index.html
            If you have any questions, please feel free to ask the Management at
            03-3811-3600.

p.4  Rara Avis (70)  The first pitching machine in Japan
                                          Miwako Atarashi, curator

The pitching machine in the photo is a domestic product designed and developed in Japan. It was designed by  Hachio Saito, a lecturer at Kanto Gakuin University, in 1956 and made at Nagoya Factory of Kumagaigumi Co. Ltd. It was improved on trial use at camp by the Chunichi Drangons, which donated it to the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum when it was opened to the public in 1959.

The mechanism of the machine: A ball is put on the nail-shaped ball housing. A spring connected with the ball housing is pulled backward by a handle in the rear. When it is released, the ball is catapulted into the air. The machine can launch a variety of pitches at different speeds and angles, so it can be used not only by batters but by fielders. When this pitching machine was made, pitchers or coaches had to pitch in the batting practice, as there were no special batting pitchers. This machine is said to have done the work of 10 pitchers. The plate (photo down) shows the machine’s weight (135 kg), production number, date of production (1.15.1958) and license number.

The pitching machine was a popular attraction mainly to children in the baseball museum before it moved to the present site (1959-1988). The new museum did not have enough space to put the big machine on display, but last year’s renovation has induced us to display it again in the event hall. Hopefully, we’ll put it on display there by the coming summer vacation after a series of safety measures are taken to prevent possible accidents.

p.5  Inductees Remembered (27)     
                    In memory of my beloved husband
                         Kyoko Kajimoto, widow of Takao Kajimoto, 2007 Hall of Famer
                     
The pennant race for 2010 has begun and my memory goes back to 1954 when a rookie southpaw just out of high school notched a win (though relieved by his senior pitcher) in the opener, the first record in the Pacific League. His pitching career started with a 20-12 record and spanned 20 years, the most splendid feat being 9 successive strikeouts in 1957. Later he coached (1974-78, 81-93) and managed (1979-80) his Hankyu Braves.

The most memorable but “dishonorable” record in his 40 years of pro baseball career was his 15 successive losses following 2 wins in 1966. I remember the night game vividly when he suffered the first loss. He was winning and I was waiting outside of Osaka Stadium leaving the stands halfway in the game. He came out after a long time, saying simply, “I’ve lost!” That proved the start of a streak of lost games. He seemed to win in the following games, but all of them ended in a loss. Following his good luck superstition, he changed his shirts and trousers and sometimes took a different route to the stadium, all in vain.

It was natural for a manager to refrain from using an ill-luck pitcher, however able he was, but Yukio Nishimoto (1988 Hall of Famer) was quite different. He kept sending the southpaw to the mound. My husband respected him and trusted in him whole-heartedly. “I cannot thank him enough. Certainly the 15 successive losses are a dishonorable record, but for me they are honorable indeed.” He loved him dearly. Later in life, when he went golfing, he picked up the manager to the golf course. When he got something delicious, it was his custom to take it to the manager. At his death Nishimoto, with a large bouquet, closed his eyes praying for his peaceful death. The dying husband was surely sorry that he had not done what he should have done for his dear manager.

He was a man of hobbies and enjoyed his life as much as he could. His hobbies ranged from golf, fishing, music, photography, horse racing, bicycle race, motorboat race, etc. He liked almost all kinds of music: classic, popular songs, and school songs and listened to them on the audio set he composed himself. He played the accordion
which he had bought in Italy when young. He could not read music, but melody was enough to play it well. When he was in a good mood, he would sing his favorite popular song, calling for a larger audience (than me!) He was particular about music equipment. He sought for good one by looking into Audio magazine, dreaming of himself listening to music in an audio room surrounded by superb equipment.

He was also particular about photography. When he met his two brothers in Tajimi, their native town, on the New Year’s Day, they brought photos of panel size and had a good time together, insisting on their families voting to decide the best one. Being obsessive about cameras, he had a Rolleiflex and a small Minox which was reportedly used by German spies. In a trip abroad, he carried a 8 mm camera. When he was aboard a sightseeing helicopter, he was mistaken as a professional cameraman. He sweated with fear when he was taken down to the basin of a waterfall, brushing down the cliff.

In baseball, hobbies and daily life, he was eager to please or surprise other people. “I’ll try a new type of pitches if my career extends one more year.” “As I can still pitch in the last inning, I’ll make a contract as a closer.” (It was the day when such a term did not exist yet) It may safely be said that my husband kept with the times and did his best, enjoying himself in his own way. In retrospect, he took up baseball as his profession which he had liked from his boyhood and eventually was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, enjoyed friendship with many people through his hobbies, spent a happy life with his family eating and drinking to his heart’s content and left a pleasant memory behind him. I heartily think that his life was a very happy one, loved by many people.

p.6  Library Note      Four Books Tell about Baseball in Hokkaido in the Meiji Era
                                                    Taku Chinone, co-librarian

Baseball season has come round again and university baseball is no exception. University baseball leagues across the country have gone into the spring competition. They boast a long and glorious history as witnessed by the books published by participating universities. From some 40 books in our collection, I have chosen three of them connected with the baseball club of Hokkaido University; Club History,1938 (Baseball Club of Hokkaido Imperial University), Baseball Club History,1949 (Baseball Club of the Preparatory Course of Hokkaido University) and 100 History, 2001 (Baseball Club of Hokkaido University).

In 1872, the Temporal School for the Development of Hokkaido, the predecessor of the present Hokkaido University, was built in Zojoji in Tokyo. It was formally opened in Sapporo in 1879 as Sapporo Agriculturral School. 100 Years says, “D.P. Penhallow, a botany and chemistry teacher, came to Sapporo with Dr. William Smith Clark. He was versed in baseball and its rules, and taught students how to play baseball.” Thus the beginning of baseball in Hokkaido coincides with the foundation of Sapporo Agricultural School. Club History tells briefly how baseball was played in those days. Gloves and mitts were not used. Players were in barefoot or in tabi, Japanese split-toe socks. The pitcher threw a ball underhand and the catcher stood four or five meters behind the batter and caught the ball at one bound. The umpire stood behind the pitcher and called the ball either “Good” or “Bad.”

In 1887, Shonen Matsumura, later the first director the baseball club, entered the preparatory course of SAS, after graduating from Meiji Gakuin in Tokyo. He brought with him the rules and techniques prevalent in Tokyo. He says in Baseball Club, “I made a mask by bending an electric wire. Also I made a mitt out of a glove stuffing lard inside.”  In his Autobiography (1960), Matsumura says in retrospect, “I made a protector out of a breastplate used in Kendo, Japanese fencing. A wooden bowl was attached on the groin.“ In 1901, a baseball club was formally started in Sapporo Agricultural School. Club History says, “No rule book was available in Japan, so we had to import Spalding’s Yearbook from America and studied baseball.” A team photo in it (taken in 1902) shows the team members wearing bow ties with bats and gloves in hand.

Incidentally baseball was also popular at Otaru and Hakodate as represented by Otaru Commercial College Baseball Club and Hakodate Ocean Club respectively.

p.7  News from the Baseball Museum

   A. On Sale
         1) Commemorative balls autographed by Osamu Higashio, 2010 Hall of Famer
                                             @ 25,000yen (including tax)
                 Please come and visit our Website at: http://www.baseball-museum.or.jp
                 They are official NPB balls encased in a glass box with a pedestal (145mm x                  130mm x 130mm). The supplements are a certificate published by the Baseball                  Hall of Fame and Museum, The Baseball Hall of Fame, 1959~2009, and 6                  admission tickets to the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

           2)   Green Wrist Band             @500yen (including tax)
                  It is a wrist band worn by all of NPB players to appeal to baseball fans to                   participate in a campaign to prevent the global warming. Part of sales will be                   allotted to “Forest of Pro Baseball,” a tree-planting drive to lessen carbon                   dioxide.
                            NB  Its design on sale is different from the one worn by players.

            3) Official Baseball Guide 2010       @2,900yen
                      Indispensable companion for every pro baseball fan!

            4) Baseball authenticated by NPB      @1,600yen (including tax)    
                      An “Official Game Ball,” which has a stipulated coefficient of restitution                       (0.41~0.44) is not available commercially.
                       Mailing service is also available with mailing charge: 250yen per ball,                        400yen for 2~3 balls, 600yen for 4~6 balls.
                        Inquiry is requested for ordering more than 6 balls.
                       Remittance should be made by registered mail.

            5)Quo Card                     @1,000yen (including tax) (500yen face value)
                      With an illustration of either Shigeo Nagashima or Sadaharu Oh, both Hall                       of Famers.
                Telephone Card               @1,000yen (including tax) (500yen face value)
                       With an illustration of a poster announcing the coming of Babe Ruth

             6)Kattobashi (Chopsticks made of broken bats. The term is a portmanteau word:                          “kattobase” (Slam it outta here!) + “hashi” (chopsticks)), an original item                       with the logo of  the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
                      Three kinds are available: For men, women (both1,890yen including                       tax) and Children (1,575yen including tax).
                      Also available are those Kattobashi with the logo of one of the 12 NPB                       teams.

   B. Changes in officials
         New Trustees     Norio Ichino, President of Japan Baseball Federation
                                   Eiji Hatta, President of Japan Student Baseball Association
                Councilor    Hiroshi Sasagawa, Managing director of Yokohama BayStars
      
         Retiring Trustees     Tatsuro Matsumae
                                       Masatake Matsuda
                     Councilor    Hiroshi Maruyama
                                       Eiji Hatta
                                       Norio Ohyama
                                       Tatsuya Yoda
           
    C. 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 and Junior High School students
                           (* Per person in groups of 20 or more)
                             300yen                   Senior citizens
          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.
           In other words, from May to July, the museum will be closed on:
                         May 10, 17, and 31; June 14, 21 and 28; July 5 and 12.
                     (NB The museum is open every day from July 13 to September 12.)

          D. Editor’s Note
            It is heartily welcome that Japan will play host for the first time to the World                   University Baseball Championship scheduled to be held from July 30 through             August 7.
            Next Newsletter will be issued in the beginning of August, for it will cover the                  Induction Ceremony (on July 23).

p. 8 Essay (40)    Samurai Japan Baseball Literature Award
              Masatomi Kobayashi, Kyodo Press
              Director of the Players Selection committee
  
A dashing award was established recently to celebrate the Samurai Japan’s two consecutive victories in the WBC in 2009. The first Samurai Japan Baseball Literature Award had as its objects Novels, Nonfictions and Comics on baseball published in 2009 and 9 works were nominated by the Selection Committee composed of Akinori Iwamura (Pittsburgh Pirates), Satoru Komiyama (baseball commentator) and Ritomo Tsunashima (essayist). On March 20, 2010, the grand prix was given to a novel, Nobody Knows authored by Masato Honjo and published by Bungei-Shunju at the first awarding ceremony.

Other nominated works were two nonfictions: 1) The Baseball God selected Uniform Number 3 ~the game held in the presence of the Emperor on June 25, 1959 (Shigenori Matsushita, Baseball Magazine Co.); 2) The Weakest Nine (Yuji Yanagawa, Kadokawa Shoten), five novels: 1) A King (Kotaro Isaka, Tokuma Shoten; 2) A Scorebook (Shizuka Ijuin, Kodansha; 3) The Nine (Ken-ichi Kawakami, PHP); 4) If A Female Manager of High School Reads Drucker’s Management (Natsumi Iwasaki, Diamond Co.); 5) Last Dance (Shun-ichi Doba, Jitsugyo-no-Nihon), and a comic, The Last Inning (Yu Nakahara and Ryu Kamio, Shogakukan)  I read some of them. All of them were tour deforce.

Nobody Knows a suspense storycentering on a mysterious Oriental slugger who mass-produce home runs in the MLB. The development of the story is marvelous and can be read at a stretch. But what impressed me most was the author’s meticulously exact description of details in baseball. He was formerly a reporter of Sankei Sports. His
story is based on not only his own experience but his interview with Katsuya Nomura and Masato Yoshii (who pitched both in NPB and MLB). Many baseball novels have been written in Japan, but most of them proved unsatisfactory because they were written with a shaky knowledge of baseball. In this respect, Nobody Knows leavesnothing to be desired and got a high estimate from Komiyama.

It is true that there are many splendid nonfictions on baseball, but lovers of novels like me want to read many baseball novels of good quality. It is to be regretted that there are only a few memorable baseball novels. For the record, let me cite the data obtainable from “Works on baseball” in Wikipedia. Comics are predominant: 360, including The Star of the Giants and Dokaben. Novels (domestic) are comparatively few: 59, little different from movies (domestic): 56.

A great significance can be found in the establishment of a baseball literature award. From next time, it may be advisable that grand prix should be given in each genre. As for baseball novels, a money prize will be a good incentive for excellent ones. In last February, we lost a great mystery writer in Dick Francis (b.1920). As an amateur and pro jockey in his young days, he specialized in horse racing mystery stories, exposing what was happening behind the scenes. How I wish there would appear a Francis who specializes in baseball one after another in Japan availing themselves of this award.

 

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