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Articles in NEWSLETTER, Vol.20, No.2

                                                    (This English version was prepared by Ryuichi Suzuki)

p.1  Induction Ceremony for the 2010 Hall of Famers
                                                          Hiroshi Satou, President
                                
The Induction Ceremony for the 2010 Hall of Famers, Osamu Higashio and Shin’ichi Etoh, was held on Friday, July 23, 2010, at Fukuoka Yahoo! Japan Dome preceding Game 1 of the 2-game All-Star Series and being watched by all the All-Stars in the playing field and a large number of spectators in the stands.

On graduating from Minoshima High School in Wakayama Prefecture, Osamu Higashio joined the Nishitetsu Lions as their first draft choice in 1969. After notching 11 wins in 1970, he was the ace of the Lions until he hung up his spikes in 1988. He was noted for his pitching inside closely to opposing batters, which earned him 251 wins in 20 seasons, during which the Lions won 5 times in the Japan Series. In 1975, he was the winningest pitcher with 23 wins and most strikeouts. He won the MVP twice: in 1983 for his most wins and best ERA and in 1987 for his second-best ERA.

Shin’ichi Etoh joined the Chunichi Dragons in 1959 after graduating from Kumamoto Commercial High School and playing for Nittetsu Futase, a non-pro team. In his rookie season, he played in all of the 130 games and in 1964 and 1965 he was a back-to-back batting champion. In 1971, in his 2nd year with the Lotte Orions in the Pacific League, he won his third batting title, thus becoming the first and only batting champion in the both leagues. He was nicknamed “ brave warrior” for his play with full of fighting spirit and once out of the stadium, he was always seen in leather windbraker. After retirement, he set up the Japan Baseball Academy “Etoh School” at Izu-Yugashima in Shizuoka Prefecture and gave instruction to amateur baseball players.

The Induction Ceremony was held as part of the opening ceremony. All of the managers, coaches and members of the Central and Pacific Leagues’ All-Stars stood along the two foul lines. Osamu Higashio and Shozo Etoh (representing his dead brother Shin’ichi. Shozo is now manager of Keio University and led it to win in the spring Tokyo Big6 University League this year) and their guests stood near the pitcher’s mound while the national anthem was played and the big screen introduced the playing days of the new Hall of Famers. Ryozo Kato, Chairman of the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, awarded them with a replica of their plaques which are to be displayed on the wall of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Then a bouquet presentation was made: to Higashio from Koji Akiyama, now manager of the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks (who once played under Higashio when he managed the Seibu Lions, 1995-2001), and to Etoh from Sadaharu Oh, chairman of the FSH. He and Shozo Etoh were teammates when they played for the Yomiuri Giants. It may be interesting to note here that Oh was thwarted two times by Shin’ichi Etoh in his attempt to win the Triple Crown. After photo taking, Higashio made the acceptance speech on behalf of the other inductee and got a standing ovation from the spectators.   
      (I cannot resist the temptation to mention here that the newly-wed topical couple visited the room for inductees. Their names are far from anybody’s guess.)                                                                            
  (Photo from left: Koji Akiyama, Osamu Higashio, Ryozo Kato, Shozo Etoh, and Sadaharu Oh)

The Induction Ceremony for Masayuki Furuta, who was selected by the Special Election Committee, is scheduled to be held at the opening ceremony of the Inter-City Baseball Championship at Tokyo Dome on Friday, August 27, 2010.

p.2    Summer Events and Exhibition for 2010

 A)  Events

Baseball Study by Elementary and Junior High School Students;
                                                through Tuesday, August 31, 2010.

         At Baseball Library and adjacent area
               
            Baseball terminology, stadiums, equipment, statistics, and history of baseball will                provide good topics for free study for juvenile students during their summer
            vacation. The two librarians and student assistants will be ready to show them
            how to read books in the library and use artifacts on display ~ bats, gloves,
            catcher’s protector and mask~ to help them with their free study.
            (Photo right from 2009)                                                               

Demonstration of bat making

               Tuesday, August 17 and Wednesday, August 18, 2010
               11:00-12:00, 13:30-14:30, and 15:00-16:00
               At the Baseball Hall of Fame; with cooperation by Mizuno Corporation

           It will mark the 7h year of bat making demonstration at the baseball museum.
           The craftsman at work will be ready to answer any questions from the floor.
           It will make a good subject for free study. (Photo from 2009)

Hands-on experience of producing a horsehide baseball by a parent-child team
   
      Thursday, August 19, 2010  13:00~14:00, 14:30~15:30
                        At the Baseball Hall of Fame

            Though the successful participants have already been decided by lottery,
            the event will be held in the presence of other visitors, so they can get a vicarious
            thrill out of watching the participants try their hand.  

B)  Exhibition

Special Exhibition “Hall of Famers for 2010”
 
               Through Sunday, September 26, 2010
               At the Baseball Hall of Fame

         The exhibition features Osamu Higashio, Shin’ichi Etoh, and Masayuki Furuta.
         Artifacts and photos related to the new inductees and their plaques are on display
         with their biographies and records. (See photo right)

p.3    Inductees Remembered (28)
               Shiki Masaoka and the Tokyo Big6 Baseball League
                        Hiroshi Masaoka, descendant of the poet Masaoka, 2002 Hall of Famer

Takusen Kato, my grandfather, was in the position of a guardian for the young Shiki Masaoka and it was he who advised the youth to go up to Tokyo. My father, Chuzaburo Kato, was the third son of Takusen. He succeeded to the Masaoka family by getting married to Ritsu, sister of his cousin, Shiki Masaoka, after Shiki died. So it came to pass that I received a replica of his plaque from Hiromori Kawashima, chairman of the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum at the 2002 induction ceremony held at Bocchan Stadium. It was immediately after the bottom of the 5th inning of the 2nd game of the All-Star Game Series which was held for the first time in Matsuyama.

On the preceding night, I happened to stay in the same hotel with Toru Watanabe, a member of the Special Selection Committee. He managed Tokyo University Baseball Club when I was a student at Waseda University and our talk naturally touched on university baseball in former times, particularly at Ikko, then preparatory school of Tokyo University. Shiki was a student there and famously enjoyed playing baseball. Oddly enough, I rooted for both Waseda and Tokyo. It was probably because I was told often about Tsunetaro Moriyama, a legendary pitcher of Ikko (1966 Hall of Famer), from my mother’s grandfather who was a professor at Kyoto University and his classmate at Ikko. I used to lodge at my relative’s in Mejiro and sometimes I saw Yushi Uchimura, who lived near. He was commissioner of professional baseball then (1983 Hall of Famer), but the authority on psychotherapy was famous as the pitcher in the Ikko dynasty.

In my days an underhand pitcher Hajime Okamura pitched for Tokyo University. Waseda Nine was often tasted the bitter cup of defeat in the match with Tokyo Nine, particularly at the first game in the spring of 1960 they were scoreless against him. In the second game, as many as 50,000 spectators filled the stadium (presumably to see if the perennial tail-ender would defeat the ever-victorious team. Incidentally Waseda barely won by 1-0). Okamura’s record in Tokyo Big6 Baseball League was 17-25, and reputed to do well as a pro, but he elected to become a scientist in technology. Interestingly Shinji Niihari, his junior by 4 years with a 8-43 record, pitched for the Taiyo Whales with a fairly good result. By the way, Tokyo was not always the tail-ender. Soon after the war, they once finished the league in the second place. Even in the decade between 1975 and 1984, they ended in the 4th place twice, and 6 times in the 5th place. The representative pitchers I can think of were Yuji Ohyama, Kensuke Okoshi (later a telecaster for NHK) and Takeshi Ichikawa, who had played an active role at Koshien despite the fact that his high school was not a baseball-orientated private one.

My college days were the last phase when TBBL and pro baseball were equally matched in popularity. In 1957 and 1958, Rikkyo Nine won four consecutive victories, but in 1959 and 1960, both Waseda and Keio regained their strength. In the fall season of 1960, Waseda defeated Keio 2-1, thus both Nine ending the season with the same result of 9-4. The play-off turned out to be three sizzling games、the first two games extending to 11 innings and ending in a tie. Unlike Keio, which had two able pitchers in Tadahiko Kiyosawa (who had shared popularity at Koshien tournament with Sadaharu Oh, 1994 Hall of Famer) and Takashi Kakutani, Waseda, with Hiroshi Kanazawa in bad form, could depend solely on Motohiro Ando. The underhand pitcher went the full distance in 5 games, appearing in the last 4 games consecutively. There was something tragic in his pitching with everything he’d got and all of baseball fans across the country were deeply moved. The cheering squads were no exception. When the 4th game was drawn due to the sunset, they stayed there well into the night. Standing together with their arms on each other’s shoulders, they exchanged their college songs and cheerleading songs. The 6-game Waseda-Keio duel attracted 65,000 spectators every day (in those days, the outfield stands of Jingu Stadium were entirely covered with turf!) and were televised by NHK and other TV stations.

Back to Shiki. When Shiki Memorial stadium was built in the Ueno Park four years ago, I was invited to the opening ceremony by Taito Ward officials. I am most honored, as a descendant of Shiki, by the fact that Shiki Memorial Baseball Tournament has been held since nine years ago in my native town Itami in Hyogo Prefecture. The place has produced many noted baseball players. To mention a few current pro baseball players: Masahiro Tanaka (Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles), Hayato Sakamoto (Yomiuri Giants), Hiroyuki Nakajima (Saitama Seibu Lions) and Hirotoshi Kitagawa (Orix Buffaloes).

I confess I am an ardent fan of a certain team franchised in the Kansai Region. I cannot help thinking that there are no other sports which are so thrilling, interesting and loved by many people as baseball. It is almost a mystery that baseball does not become boring however long it has been closely watched. I am already a septuagenarian, but when old people like me enjoy watching a night game, with a can of beer in hand, their minds are gone back to their boy’s days when, wearing a shabby glove sewn by their mother, they ran after a ball in a nearby vacant lot until dusk.
                                                                
p.4  Rara avis (71)  Catcher’s mask used in the Meiji era (replica)
                                          Miwako Atarashi, Co-curator

In the beginning of baseball, a catcher used to stand at a short distance in the back of the home plate and caught on the first bounce a slow ball thrown by the pitcher. As time passed, the catcher came to catch a fast ball on no bounce at close behind the plate, making it necessary to protect his face with some gear.
    
The first catcher’s mask was contrived in America in 1877, being modeled on a mask used in fencing. The counterpart in Japan, which was modeled on a mask used in kendo (Japanese fencing), began to be used in the 1890s. The one in the photo is a replica produced in 1959 at the inauguration of the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. It was reportedly made by referring to photos and books published in the Meiji era and also consulting people who had played baseball at that time. The close-meshed wires (mengane) in kendo’s mask were adapted for use in the replica.

     Library Note     The first All-Star Series 
                                          Taku Chinone, Co-librarian

In connection with the 60th All-Star Series held in Fukuoka and Niigata on July 23 and 24 respectively, I will introduce the first All-Star Series held in 1951 by citing articles from the Hochi Shimbun in our possession at the Baseball Library.

An excerpt of the articles on July 5 on the first game held at Koshien Stadium on July 4 says, “Thousands of impatient fans flooded in as soon as the gates were opened at 8:30.” The largest number of spectators in the history of the All-Star Series (48, 671 for the record) were surprised to see 56 members of the first All-Star Series coming into the field riding on two sightseeing buses. They were elected by fans’ voting, selection by reporters, and managers’ recommendation. “In a drizzling rain, the epoch-making game began with the ceremonial first pitch by Commissioner Seita Fukui.”

The 2ns and 3rd games were held at Korakuen Stadium in Tokyo. The articles show how eagerly fans were waiting for the All-Star Games. “About  8,000 fans were waiting outside the gates from early in the morning (July 8).” “The gates were forced to be opened at 7:30, 30 minutes earlier than the schedule (July 9).”

The Hochi Shimbun in those days had only 2 pages, but it carried each game of the All-Star Series covering much space on the front page. The process of the game was described player by player, enabling the readers to follow the game as though they were watching the game in action. As the photo right shows, newspapers and magazines of those days are available at the Baseball Library. Please come and enjoy reading them.

p.5  Column: Much to See, Much to Enjoy (35)
        In the summer when Choshi was on fire
                                   Masakazu Akashi, Sustaining member of the BHFM

One day in 1965, when I was in the 3rd grade in elementary school, the head clerk said on returning home,  “I dropped by at the newspaper sales agency, but Shogyo was still scoreless.” Shogyo or Chosho was a popular name of Choshi Commercial High School. The preliminary round in Chiba Precture for the National High School Baseball Championship at Koshien Stadium was in progress, and the whole town  was counting on Chosho. Masaaki Kitaru, later pitched for the Tokyo Orions, was its ace. My father was a Chosho graduate and ran a wholesale shop on daily necessities and confectionary. He was fond of talking about baseball with the customers and salespersons.

In those days, no regional preliminary round was televised nor useful cellphones were available. The quickest  report on the result of games were posted on the handmade scoreboard at the Asashi Shimbun sale agency. Every time I visited there with my father or grandfather, I found a crowd of people waiting patiently for the score to be jotted down by a clerk who had received a telephone call from the stadium. They were up and down about the possibility of Chosho, and went back home jubilantly when they were sure it would win.

Chosho won easily through the regional round and advanced to the tournament in Koshien Stadium. As they won in the quarterfinals and semifinals, many Choshi people went all the way there and rooted for the young players waving fishermen’s flags (indicating a rich haul). Regrettably they lost to Miike Techinical HS, but they were warmly welcomed by record-breaking turnouts of people when they paraded in the streets back in Choshi. The players were the idols of all the young people who played sandlot baseball  “Let’s enter Chosho and play in Koshien Stadium as they did!” was their motto. At the same time in Kyushu, it was said, the young Tatsunori Hara, son of the manager of the winning team, was impressed by the feat of his seniors and decided to become a great baseball player. In those days, a uniform was a luxury for sandlotters. They enjoyed playing triangle baseball, casually dressed. It was a common sight across the country.

I had a setback, however. Even among sandlotters, differences of their playing ability did come to be clear. However hard I tried, I was not able to play so well as young all-rounders at sports. My interest shifted to soccer in junior high school and chose Municipal Choshi High School which was orientated toward preparation for university entrance examination. I was infatuated with Pele (Brazil). Beckenbauer and Muller (West Germany) and joined the soccer club. My adoration of the German soccer team led me to become a German teacher. On the other hand, my playmates at elementary and junior high school carried out their original intention. In 1973, Chosho defeated Sakushin Gakuin team which was led by the phenomenal pitcher Taku Egawa in the second round. And in 1974, they finally won in the NHBC, setting
the whole town in an uproar.

Many of Chosho players turned pro. Most of them said that practice at Chosho was more severe than they experienced in pro baseball.” A relative of its manager in those days once told me, “When he lost a game, the telephone at his home kept ringing and dissatisfied fans piled on bitter complaint on him. At last he left home and stayed at a hotel instead.” That reminds me of how soccer in Brazil is played now. On the beaches of Rio de Janeiro and in vacant lots of Sao Paulo, many children enjoy playing soccer. Soccer players of rare gift are born naturally in these circumstances, but the sport of Brazil’s own forte requires people with an eye for future leading soccer players. The boys praised by them will wish to become
good players like Pele or Zico, and represent the country in the future. Only the selected few can play in the World Cup. Losers are  always in the wrong. Merciless fans always boo managers and players. Read Brazil team for Chosho baseball team, World Cup for Koshien, and fanatic supporters for baseball fans, and you will see Choshi in those days.
 
In the days of declining birthrate, children enjoying sandlot baseball are rarely to be seen. Gone are the days when children were devoted to playing baseball. Whenever summer comes round, I think of my heated boyhood and a melody comes to me. It is the school song of Choshi Commercial High School; lyrics by Gyofu Sohma, music by Tetteki Tohgi.

          “Behold Inubozaki Promontry stretching over there!
           The battleground of land and seas from the ancient times.”

The name of the school is not mentioned in it. The brave and strong melody was sung every time Chosho Nine won in Koshien. It represents no other than the feverish atmosphere of my native town in those days.
   
p.6  Topics     April, 2010 to June, 2010

     Aril 24 and 25   Master Kubota’s demonstration of bat making
          
            To celebrate the beginning of the 2010 baseball season, a special
            demonstration of bat making was conducted by Master Isokazu Kubota
            (Mizuno Corporation).
                  
     May 4          5,000,000th Visitor Welcomed 
          
             At 11:50 a.m., on Tuesday, May 4, 2010, the Baseball Hall of Fame and
             Museum  greeted its 5 millionth visitor since its inauguration on June 12, 1959.
             The memorable visitor, Shigehiro Aoyagi and his family (Fukushima City),
             was presented a bat modeled on Ichiro’s from Hiroshi Satou, president of
             t he BHFM. Among 680 applications to predict the day, 54 applicants predicted
             i t correctly. Three successful applicants were chosen by lottery and were
            given a bat modeled onKiyohara, Kokubo and Nishi            

     May 5          Golden Week event; Virtual batting
          
             90 elementary and junior high school students competed in virtual batting for
            a prize. Five of them hit a home run and nine of them 3 base hits and were
            presented an autographed ball. Those batters who hit 1 or 2 base hits were
            given a “sharp pencil.” During the “Golden week,” (April 29 – May 5),
            a badge (shaped like Tokyo Dome)was given to about 2,000 elementary and
            junior high students.

     May 11         Kuroe Talks on baseball
             
            Yukinobu Kuroe, who played for Yomiuri Giants, talked on his baseball career
            t o four Junior high school students from Miyagi Prefecture. It was at the event,”             Dreams and  Future Career,” held under the auspices of the All Japan Baseball             Foundation/Japan Professional Baseball Alumni Club.
                    
     May 14          Press conference for “Lions Classic 2010”

            It was attended by Osamu Higashio (2010 Hall of Famer). It was the first press
            conference held in the Baseball Hall of Fame by a professional baseball club.
                    

     May 25          Harimoto Comes

            Isao Harimoto, 1990 Hall of Famer, acted as a narrator when the Korean
            Baseball System shot the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
                    
     June 3           Kroon Comes
         
              Pitcher Kroon of Yomiuri Giants visited here for the third time with his family.
              For himself, it was the third visit.

p.7

A   Sustaining members for 2010 Invited

Since its inauguration 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 1959-2009 (Published in March, 2009)
      (Junior members excepted)

          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  On Sale
   1) Commemorative balls autographed by Osamu Higashio, 2010 Hall of Famer
                                             @ 25,000 yen(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 (145 mm x
                 130 mm x 130 mm). The supplements are a certificate published by
                  the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, The Baseball Hall of Fame,
                  1959~2009,
and 6admission 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) 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.

C   News from the Baseball Museum

  1. The board of directors and councilors of the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum met at Tokyo Dome Hotel at 11 o’clock on Monday, June 6 and approved the following items on the agenda:reports on activities, statement of accounts for 2009 and auditor’s certificate for 2009.
  2. Changes in officials
    New councilor
             Junsei Atarashi, managing director of the Tokyo Yakult Swallows
              Noriaki Iida, executive managing director of the Saitama Seibu Lions
              Naoyuki Murakami, Operating officer of the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks

     Retiring councilor   Kesanori Kurashima, Masashi Tsunoda
             
   3. Obituary     Kenjiro Tamiya, 2002 Hall of Famer, passed awasy on May 5, 2010
                       at the age of 82.

   4. 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 over
           
            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 August to October, the museum will be closed
                     on the following days.
                     September 13 and 27/ October 4, 18, and 25

p.8  Essay (41)    Exchange between Japan and Korea through baseball
                          Keiichi Mine, director of the Players Selection Committee 
                Yomiuri Shimbun, West Head Office   
 
My Fukuoka City has a compact infrastructure, and its transport system is very convenient to go to other places. Hakata International Terminal is a typical one. Rapid hydrofoil boats ply across the sea to Pusan a few times daily. Early in last April, I went to Pusan on business by taking this sea route. The maximum speed of the hydrofoil was 80 kilometers per hour. After leaving the terminal, we sailed up the Sea of Genkai, looking at Tsushima Island on the left. When I thought I lost sight of it, Pusan Harbor was just before us. The width of the Strait of Tsushima is about 200 kilometers, and Tsushima Island and Pusan are only 50 kilometers apart. It took only 2 hours, 55 minutes to get Pusan, in about the same time it takes to go from  Hakata to Shin-Osaka by bullet train.

The traffic between Fukuoka and Pusan is busy indeed. The two cities are connected also by air and car ferry. The rapid hydrofoils once took on 600,000 passengers in a year. Though the decline of the won decreased the number of passengers, there have been more than 4 million passengers in all as of 2010 in the 20 years of service. A discount overnight 2-day trip to try grilled meat in Pusan costs only a little less than 20,000 yen. Koreans can enjoy a similar advantage in Fukuoka. At scenic places there, directions and instructions are given in Hangul alphabet as well as in English and Chinese in addition to Japanese. Conversations in Korean are to be heard all over the city. For both people, Pusan and Fukuoka are neighboring towns on the other side of the Tsushima Strait.

Fukuoka and Greater Pusan are sister cities mutually. They have been cooperating together to hold the Pusan-Fukuoka Asian Gateway 2011 and as its sightseeing exchange campaign, a goodwill baseball game was held between Fukuoka Softbank Hawks and Pusan Lotte Giants on last February 28 at Fukuoka Yahoo! Japan Dome. A crowd of 28,500 spectators consisting of the fans of both teams thronged to the Dome, and their festive mood rose when a Korean actress Choi Jiwoo appeared and threw the ceremonial first pitch. From 1982 when pro baseball in Korea started、Pusan has been the franchise of the Lotte Giants (they wear uniforms with vertical stripes) and their mascots are common sight in the town. With so many ardent baseball fans in both cities, this event will surely have a great future.

The gap between Korean and Japanese pro baseball seems to have narrowed gradually. Admittedly there is no difference in their ability as is shown by the fact that in the World Baseball Classic, they have proved an archrival. Leading Korea players have chosen to join Japanese pro baseball teams. This year sees power hitter Kim Tae Hyun in Chiba Lotte Mariners, and formidable Lee Boem Ho in Fukuoka Softbank Hawks. Moreover, Japan-Korea Club Championship started last year. The exchange through baseball will increase with more and more fans going abroad, or to be exact, to their neighboring country.

In the former site of Heiwadai Stadium, which used to be the franchise of Nishitetsu Lions, an excavation work of the remains of Korokan Guest House has continued to be done. The symbol of international exchange was built in the 7th century and used for entertaining people who came over from China and Korea for diplomatic or trade purposes. More than 1,300 years have passed since then and the landmark in the Hakata Bay has changed from Korokan Guest House to Fukuoka Yahoo! Japan Dome. Its sight from the sea is worth seeing at least once in your life. The first sight which leaps to the eyes of passengers aboard the ship bound for Fukuoka is the brown-colored big roof of the Dome. This is the present-day Korokan, full of hospitality with “baseball” as its password.

The keyword in the aforementioned campaign was “compassion.”  Fukuoka and Pusan are reputed for their humane feelings and resemble each other in being far distant from the center of politics. Aboard the ship back from my business trip to Pusan, I sincerely hoped that the two cities, as the gateways to Asia, would deepen their ties, not being shacked by the framework of their country.

 

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