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Articles in NEWSLETTER, Vol.20, No.4

                                              (This English version has been prepared by Ryuichi Suzuki)

p.1  2011 Hall of Famers Elected
                                                          Mitsumasa Kaihoku, Acting President

The Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum announced its Hall of Famers for 2011 at the press conference held at 3 pm at the Baseball Hall of Fame on Friday, January 14, 2011. The Players Division of the Players Selection Committee (PSS) elected Hiromitsu Ochiai, and its Experts Division elected the late Mutsuo Minagawa. The membership of the Hall of Famers is now 173, including 35 living Hall of Famers.

After the opening speech by Ryozo Kato, chairman of the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, the results of the PSC were reported by Teruaki Yonetani, representative director of the PSC, and those of the SSC by myself on behalf of the late Hiroshi Satou. Then the 2011 inductees were given a certificate of their induction from Ryozo Kato.

In his acceptance speech, Ochiai said, “I have received every possible award in pro baseball. I regarded my possible induction as the last award I would obtain after retirement. I am now rather bewildered by earlier award-winning. I will do my best to give a helping hand to baseball.” His guest speaker Shigeru Sugishita (1985 Hall of Famer) said, “I declare, with his spectacular performance as a player and manager, his induction has come too late. He should have been inducted much earlier. I do hope he will wipe out the disgrace of the defeat in the Japan Series last year.”

Mrs Machiko Minagawa, speaking with tears on behalf of his deceased husband, “I am glad to convey the joyous tidings to my dear husband on the seventh anniversary of his death on February 6.”  She used to drive him to the stadium and back in long-sleeved cloths, keeping off the air conditioner for his heath. Surely her strenuous support earned him 221 wins in 18 seasons. Her guest speaker Katsuya Nomura (1989 Hall of Famer), joined the Nankai Hawks in the same year with Minagawa in 1959 and had long been Minagawa’s battery mate. “He was the first to throw cut balls. As was usual with sidearm pitchers, he was an easy target of left-handed batters. At last we came up with a new kind of stuff and tried it on Sadaharu Oh (1994 Hall of Famer) in an exhibition game. I remember clearly how glad he was when Oh was retired with a pop fly to the second baseman.”

The press conference ended by taking commemorative photos of the inductees, and was followed by a long interview of each of them by a lot of media people. The Induction Ceremony for Hiromitsu Ochiai and the late Mutsuo Minagawa is scheduled to be held at the first game of the 2011 All-Star Series at Nagoya Dome on Friday, July 22.

Photo left:   (From left ) Machiko Minagwa and Hiromitsu Ochiai
Photo right:  (From left in the back row) Tadahiro Minagwa, Rozo Kato
(From left in the front row) Katsuya Nomura, Machiko Minagawa, Hiromitsu Ochiai, and Shigeru Sugishita

p.2   2011 Hall of Famers elected by the Players Selection Committee
                                                Teruaki Yonetani
                                                Representative Director of the PSC

The 51st Players Selection Committee (PSC) elected Hiromitsu Ochiai (57), a three-time Triple Crown winner and now manager of the Chunichi Dragons, in the Players Division and the late Mutsuo Minagawa, the last 30 winner with 221 career record, in the Experts Division. In the election in the Players Division, 333 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 31 eligible candidates prepared and listed by the Screening Committee. Hiromitsu Ochiai, the runner-up in the past two years, received 277 ballots by a majority of 30 over the stipulated number of 247. In the Experts Division, the 47 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. The late Mutsuo Minagawa received 35 ballots by a majority of 5 over the stipulated number of 30 and became the third successful candidate in this division since 2008.

Hiromitsu Ochiai, 172nd Hall of Famer

In his acceptance speech at the press conference, he was thinking about the induction ceremony scheduled to be at Game 1 of the All-Star Series to be held at Nagoya Dome. “After all, I will have to attend in uniform, not in suit.”
It was his twisted way of expressing his joy of being elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame. As the winning manager of last season, he is to manage the All-Central in his franchise. In stead of expressing gratitude directly, he said that he was grappling with the question of what to wear in the ceremony. He also laughed off his two successive failures in the election by a single vote. “I might have done better by losing the honor for the third straight year by one vote. It would be wonderful to do what cannot be done by others.”

After playing for Toshiba Fuchu Industrial league team, he joined the Lotte Orions as the third choice in the draft for 1979 at the age of 24. The late and unknown comer believed in his ability and, setting a high goal, he went on his own way in pro baseball. He led the Pacific League five times in batting, three times in RBI and HR. He won the Triple Crown three times and MVP two times. In 1987 he was traded to the Chunichi Dragons as the first 100 million player. He led the Central League twice in HR and RBI. In 1994, he joined the Yomiuri Giants as a free agent and moved to the Nippon Ham Fighters in 1997 and retired after the next season. As he said in his speech, he had won almost all awards in pro baseball and his induction into the BHF might be his last award.

It was the first induction of an active field manager since 1965 when Tetsuharu Kawakami (Yomiuri Giants) and Kazuto Tsuruoka (Nankai Hawks) were elected simultaneously. In the revision of 1968, active managers, coaches and umpires were removed from the candidate list in the Players Selection Committee, but the 2008 revision has
enabled them to be elected with their records in their playing days as a criterion of their selection. He ended his speech by referring to his beloved family, “I have thought I have nothing to do with this coveted honor while I am in uniform, but after this ceremony, I am going to have a small party to celebrate my induction with my wife, son and his wife. “

Mutsuo Minagawa, 173rd Hall of Famer

In the press conference, Mrs Machiko Minagawa received the certificate of induction on behalf of his deceased husband who died of sepsis in 2005 at the age of 69. “I am glad to convey the joyous tidings,” she said with tears, “to my dear husband on the seventh anniversary on the coming February 6.” In the heyday of the Nankai Hawks, the right-handed sidearm pitcher earned 221 wins with 139 losses. In 1968, he led the Pacific League in wins (31-10) and ERA (1.61). Since then there has been no other pitchers in the NPB who won 30 or more games.

“I still remember his joyful look,” said his guest speaker and former batterymate, Katsuya Nomura who joined the Nankai Hawks with him in 1954. “It was in an exhibition game against the Giants in 1968. His best pitches were screwballs (commonly called in Japan “shoot”) but we had had to come up with a new stuff against left-handed batters. With runners on first and third bases, his new short slider worked well against Oh, who was retired with a pop fly to second. His pitches were what we call `cut balls’ now. He should be much more praised as the forerunner of the new stuff.”  At Nomura’s speech, Mrs. Minagawa was in tears again. “My husband always said he owed everything to his batterymate. I am really happy to be here with Mr. Nomura.”

p.3    2011 Hall of Famer by the Special Selection Committee
                                     Yoshio Nishida, member of SSC

The new rules of election by the SSC which have been in force since four years ago stipulate that the candidates in the SSC are 1) amateur players, coaches, managers, and umpires; 2) those people who contributed, or have contributed, a great deal to the development of pro and/or amateur baseball in terms of organization and management. The Screening Committee met in last November and selected ten eligible candidates: five holdovers and five new ones. They are ( in alphabetical order):

  1. Tadashi Bito               Manager of Minoshima High School; won 4 victories in                                       Koshien
  2. Kazuo Fukushima (New)     Pitched for Kokura High School; won two consecutive                                               victories in Koshien
  3. Kazuo Hayashi (New)       Founder of the Japan Little League
  4. Yuji Koseki (New)          Composed many rooting songs for pro and amateur                                            baseball teams
  5. Osamu Ohmoto            Set up safety standards of metal bats; raised aodamo                                            (materials for bats)                       
  6. Makoto Ohta (New)         Manager of Komazawa University for 35 years with 22                                            victories
  7. Kiro Osafune             Mediation between amateur and pro baseball culminated in                                           “Nagashima Japan”
  8. Hisatsugu Owari            Pioneer scorer for the Nankai Hawks
  9. Nobuyoshi Tsubota          Master craftsman of glove making called a magic hand
  10. Haruo Wakimura (New)     5th president of Japan High School Baseball                                                   Federation

The SSC consists of 14 members, who are active or retired professional baseball officials, active amateur baseball officials and “learned persons related with or versed in baseball.” The current committee includes a non-fiction writer specialized in baseball, media people, and two living Hall of Famers. They had a candid and extensive discussion for more than an hour. It was impressive that one of the electors expressed his surprise in wonder at the heated discussion.

They voted in three candidates at most. The names of the candidates who received seven or more valid votes are:
Kiro Osafune 10; Osamu Ohmoto 9; Kazuo Fukushima 7; Kazuo Hayashi 7. The number of vote necessary to be elected was 11, that is, three fourths or more of 14. As no one made the cut, re-election was held according to the Article 18 of the Rules of Election with the above-mentioned four eligible candidates, each elector voting in two candidates at most. The result of the re-election were:
Kiro Osafune 9; Osamu Ohmoto 9; Kazuo Fukushima 5; Kazuo Hayashi 4.  No candidates obtained 11 or more vote, so it turned out that there were no successful candidates for the first time in 18 years. The room was wrapped in a futile atmosphere all the more because the electors had a heated discussion. A non-fiction writer member spoke to disheartened fellow members consolingly, “It was all because there were many adequate candidates, not because they were inadequate.” There are many and various people who have contributed to baseball in their own ways. Ideally speaking, the Baseball Hall of Fame should have room enough for them to enter. It is high time that an adequate and proper way of selection was wanted in earnest.

p.4  Column: Much to See, Much to Enjoy (37)  
           
           My Baseball Experience
                                                              Ichiro Shinohara, Sustainer of the BHFM

I was born in the same 1959 when the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum was opened to the public, but do not remember when I began to play baseball. Before I knew it, I was simply playing with a bat, like many other boys in Shikoku, dreaming of becoming a future Nagashima or Oh. In 1972 when I entered junior high school, my life changed drastically. Matsuyama City was still basking in the aftermath of the dramatic victory of Matsuyama Commercial High School in the National HS Baseball Championship at Koshien three years before. It was as natural for baseball boys in Matsuyama to wish to play baseball with MCHS team as for boys across the country to wish to become a pro baseball player for the Yomiuri Giants. To join the baseball team in a junior high school in Shikoku, however, they had to be prepared to go through an unexpected hardship, for, unlike in big cities, they had had almost no experience of playing in Little League.

It was the end of a happy children days. Once in a baseball team in JHS, there were no Sundays, “Golden Week,” or summer vacations any more. Practice was forced to be done much longer at these times than after lessons. An excursion with parents was the unthinkable. At practice, it was not allowed to lie down nor drink water even when it was needed. Whenever I came to stumble with fatigue, I beat it with clenched teeth. I did practice swinging a bat every day from the first day when I joined a JHS team until the day when the fall season of university league ended in my senior year. It was anything but pleasure, but I took it as what I should endure as a baseball player. In the whole ten years when I played student baseball at different levels, I experienced many joys and frustrations. Rival high school teams in Shikoku were traditionally stronger than peer schools across the country. When I played in the Tokyo Big Six University League, admittedly the best varsity league in Japan, there were many excellent players who turned pro afterwards, which retrospectively gave me much satisfaction.

It was only when I played sandlot baseball after I took employment that I really had the delight of playing baseball again. Sandlot baseball has given me much less joy and hardship than I had experienced in student baseball, but I have found in it a placid and carefree baseball which is to be enjoyed for its own sake. I took the mound for the first time in my life, which has given me quite different reactions to me than what I experienced as a position player or a batter. It was quite natural that every baseball kid longed to be a slugger like Nagashima or Oh and there were none to show me the exquisite pleasure of being a pitcher. My fellow pitchers seemed to be undergoing more hardship than position players and to know nothing about the pleasure of batting. With shorter career and fewer salary, it seemed that there was nothing good with even pro pitchers.

On the contrary, however, when I happened to take the mound in sandlot baseball, I was surprised to find myself  playing a different game from position players. I cannot explain why, but I reckon that all the pitchers, pro or amateur, young or old, have the same feeling. I can hear pro pitchers mumbling to themselves, “Position players do not understand pitchers anyway. That’s OK.”  As for me, if I could lead a life again, I wish to start my baseball life from scratch as a pitcher. Taking the mound in sandlot baseball in my early 50’s, I find myself in a moment of ecstasy, thinking that my dream has come true.

p.5  Inductees Remembered (30)    

            My papa is God
                              Takako Shono, eldest daughter of Kazuhisa Inao, 1993 Hall of Famer

The expression, “Dear God, dear Buddha, and dear Inao!” sounds too haughty to our family, but honestly Speaking, it was after my father died that we knew it was invented by enthusiastic fans of the Nishitetsu Lions. We four daughters of a baseball legend grew up in ignorance of baseball. Our mother was media-shy, and even now she does not know rules of baseball and cannot recognize baseball players. We four have now our own family
and at last can understand in what circumstances we have grown up. I think we have led an ordinary life. We did not have any deep connection with other players or their families, only I alone was interviewed on behalf of my mother.

In early 2007, he complained of a pain in his back and was scheduled to be hospitalized in a university hospital for medical check in the fall. We consoled him by saying, “You can take a good rest. As you are forced to keep from drinking and smoking, it will surely do you good.”  How could we, including himself, foresee that he would die only two weeks after he was hospitalized! How hastily he left this world! Three years have passed since then, but
we can hardly believe he has died. On the other hand, I have come to have his new image as a pitcher, coach, manager, and a commentator from his old acquaintances and mourners. Their fond recollections have reminded me how he was supported by many people and conversely how much he left to them. As his bereaved family, we are sincerely grateful to know that there are many people who share our longings to meet him again.

He did not care about trifles. He was always genial and liked to crack poor jokes. We do not remember him in ill-tempered. He liked to have everything his own way. His enthusiasm is so great that we feel as if his favorite golf bags were flying over the Japanese sky all the time. He was fastidious about food. When he became a regular commentator in a TV program in Fukuoka, he used to cook the menu which was introduced on the program. His forte was grilled meat on a small charcoal stove (shichirin).  He liked shochu spirits so much that, how late he was back home, he never failed to taste it before he went to bed. Particular as to what and how to eat, however, he was careless about anything else and his desk was always in a mess. So I was surprised to find his notebooks meticulously written in and his scorebooks neatly color-coded. I am sorry that I was not aware of it when he was alive.

When I was asked to write this essay, I re-read my father’s last book, “Dear God, dear Buddha, and dear Inao!”. It was originally written in serials on Nihon Keizai Shimbun entitled “My Personal History,” and later published in 2002 by the same press. He wrote in it, “It was an honor indeed to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. To be enshrined with my respected precursors is my last title to top off my baseball life.”  How true it was to my father! His career after retirement as manager and coach was not a satisfactory one compared with his career as a great pitcher. Truth to tell, I attended the Induction Ceremony in 1993 for my father and Minoru Murayama with my youngest sister on behalf of my mother. It was held on the infield of Tokyo Dome preceding the All-Star game of that year. My father looked a little exalted, but my sister and I walked nervously along with him, thinking only that something great was going to take place.

In his book he went on to write on the changes of baseball and fans due to the change of the times, and was worried that a continuous exodus of star players to the U.S. might weaken pro baseball in Japan. He has ended his essay by referring to his four daughters. (It was not new to me, but I quite forgot that he wrote it.) “Though baffled several times, I sincerely hope that any one of my grandchildren (five boys and two girls) will play baseball.” He used to call us four daughters with a smile “four straight bases on balls,” knitting his brows with his narrow eyes more closed.

His last words in his book say, “My baseball life seems to continue further on.” But despite or according to his reverential appellation given by his fans, he at last passed away at the age of 70. I cannot but think, however, that he spent a happy baseball life, being loved by many people for his great contribution to baseball. Buried in the tomb near Fukuoka Yahoo! Japan Dome, he is still thinking about baseball.

p.6  Rara Avis (73)  100-year-old photographic postcard
                    ~ Keio Gijuku baseball team in Hawaii in July, 1911 ~
                                                                  Miwako Atarashi, curator

The picture postcard on the left was made from a photo depicting Keio Gijuku baseball team on the way back from their first tour in the U.S.A. in July, 1911. It seems to have been produced in Hawaii, but similar postcards were also made in Japan. Our baseball museum has many of them (the first of which was from 1907) which depict baseball teams and games in action. Photographs are comparatively few in sports magazines published in the Meiji Era, so they are first-rate materials to know how baseball was played in those days. They were produced immediately after the game, so they seem to have served as a quick report of it. It was possible to identify every player on the photograph, so it can be said that they were collective still pictures of baseball players.

Let me take a brief look at baseball toward the end of the Meiji Era. In 1905, the Waseda University made their first (and the very first overseas tour for Japanese teams) tour to America and brought back the up-to-date knowledge on baseball. In 1908, the Reach All American visited Japan as the first professional team. In 1910, the Baseball Rules on the Spalding Official Guide were translated into Japanese and published as “Current Baseball Rules,” which served to erase the time difference in baseball rules between America and Japan. At the end of 1910 and the turn of 1911, the Keio Nine were coached by active Major Leaguers headed by Arthur Shafer (shortstop of the New York Giants) and taught a scientific baseball handed directly down from manager John McGraw. In 1911, the Waseda Nine also went on a baseball tour in America. So it can be said that baseball, which had been introduced to Japan as early as in 1872, made a remarkably progress there in the first decade of the 20th century.

Library Note       Japan Women’s Olympics Yearbook (1924、Chuo Undo-sha)
                         ~ Baseball was popular among women~
                                                          Taku Chinone, co-librarian

The Yearbook was published from Chuo Undo-sha to celebrate the first Japan Women’s Olympics held in 1924. Not only the records of the meeting, but criticism of women’s sport in general, records of athletics, swimming, tennis (imported and adapted versions), baseball, volleyball, and basketball participated in and played by women in 1922 through 1924, and their rules are carried in the book.

Interestingly, two higher women’s high schools in Osaka (Ichioka and Sennan) and two in Wakayama (Kokawa and Wakayama) participated in the baseball tournament. In the final game Wakayama defeated Kokawa by the score of 14 – 11. According to the women’s baseball rules (compiled by the publisher), the distance between bases is 70 feet, innings are seven, balls are made of rubber, and gloves, mitts and masks are optional. Apparently the catcher in the photo on the right is not wearing a mask.

In the August issue of Sportsman in 1924, Tatsuo Saeki (1981 Hall of Famer) said, “I am surprised and ashamed to know that women’s skill in baseball is much, much better than I thought……I must admit that my imagination was too poor.” (NB: Saeki’s concern with student baseball began around 1920. Later in 1965 he became the third president of Japan High School Baseball Federation and remained in office until his death in 1980.) It must be admitted that women’ s baseball was so popular in those days that it was adopted as an event in the national women’s sports meeting.

p.7  A   Topics     Notable visitors between November 2010 through January 2011
      

  1.  On November 22, a group of 12 rookies of the Yomiuri Giants headed by pitcher Hirokazu Sawamura prayed to the Monument to the memory of the war dead which stands outside and then made a tour of the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
         (Caption 1) taking a commemorative photograph, with the uniform worn by                         manager Tatsunori Hara in his rookie year.
         (Caption 2) The same in front of the plaque of the legendary pitcher Eiji                         Sawamura.
  2.  On December 17, Masumi Kuwata, who pitched for the Yomiuri Giants, and pitcher Masahiro Tanaka (Tohoku Rakuten Eagles), visited to participate in the program to be televised on TBS in January.
         (Caption 1) In the Baseball Hall of Fame.
         (Caption 2) In front of the artifacts of pitcher Masaichi Kaneda
                              (1988 Hall of Famer)
  3. January 14 saw the visit of manager Nuga and five members of Nihon Tsuun Shikoku (Kagawa Prefecture), which won the Emperor’s Cup in the 65th Japan Rubber Baseball Championship in 2010.
         (Caption) In front of the display of their commemorative photograph.

B  News from the Baseball Museum

  1.  On Sale    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
          (145 mm x 130 mmx 130 mm). The supplements are a certificate published by the           Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, a copy of The Baseball Hall of Fame,
          1959~2009
, and 6 admission tickets to the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

     2. Obituary    Hiroshi Satou, president of the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
         passed away on December 9, 2010 at the age of 58. He had been in office
         since March, 2008.
    
     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.
                    N.B. In other words, from February to April, the museum will be closed on:
                            February 7, 14, 21 and 28; March 7 and 14; April 11,18 and 25

      4.Editor’s Note 
               The press conference to announce the 2011 Hall of Famers was held on Friday,                    January 14, 2011 at the Baseball Hall of Fame, which was filled with some
               100 persons, including the people concerned, the media and visitors in general.
               For further details, please refer to pages 1-3

P. 8  Essay (43)   Sukiyaki and the Fierce Hanshin Tigers
                                           Masaya Uchita, Sports Nippon Shimbun

“That night we ate sukiyaki,” said Tetsuya Yamamoto, 76, who caught for the Hanshin Tigers. He referred to the memorable night on June 25, 1959, when they played with the Yomiuri Giants in the presence of the Emperor and Empress.

From November to the end of last year, I serialized a story entitled “The Fierce Tigers ~ Visits to dear old Places” on Sports Nippon (Osaka Branch) to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Hanshin Tigers. I met many people to gather materials for it. Yamamoto told me his reminiscences of Shimizu Ryokan in Hongo, the team’s regular inn in Tokyo from 1950 to 1969. The site is now the gymnasium of Hongodai Junior High School.

On the bottom of 9th inning, relief pitcher Minoru Murayama (1993 Hall of Famer) was pounded for a sayonara home run. After the game, defeated Tiger players went back to their inn, walking uphill in uniform as usual. They took a bath and had dinner together in a large room. Masako Shimizu, 83, wife of the innkeeper, had only a vague memory, but Yamamoto remembered clearly what they ate on that night. “There is no mistaking about it. It was sukiyaki. I don’t know why, but I have an unusually clear memory of what I ate.”

Talking about their old days, they often referred to food, particular sukiyaki. Kenjiro Matsuki (1978 Hall of Famer), the first captain of the Tigers, wrote a lot of interesting episodes in his book, “The Early History of the Hanshin Tigers” (published by Kobunsha). In their initial year in 1936, they decided to make a baseball tour in Manchuria. In June they were invited by Masao Matsukata, president of the club, to a send-off party at Koshien Hotel (now Koshien Hall owned by Bukogawa Women’s University). Among a few enthusiastic fans who had been invited to the party, there was Ei Tano, a famous Tiger Lady. She lived near Koshien Stadium. Her granddaughter Hamako Horii, 83, told me about her grandmother. (Her great-grandson is Kazuto Horii, who worked for the Orix as a scout.) The Tiger Lady had four houses
built in front of her house for Tiger players, particularly Jimmy Horio and her pet player Mon-chan, i.e., Masato Monzen. Not only Tadashi Wakabayashi (1964 Hall of Famer) and Fumio Fujimura (1974 Hall of Famer), but Eiji Sawamura (Giants, 1959 Hall of Famer) often called on her house. “When they came, she would often entertain them with sukiyaki. She tenderly advised them to eat properly for the game. She looked very happy at table with them.”

Matsuki reportedly ate 16 bowls of rice with sukiyaki in his student days at Meiji University, but he admitted he was no match to Tadashi Wakabayashi who had come from Hawaii. When Wakabayashi visited Japan for the first time as a member of Stockton Yamato Baseball Club in 1928, they were invited to a welcome sukiyaki party (prepared by Meiji University) at a restaurant in Futako-Tamagawa. Matsuki happened to sit at the same table with Wakabayashi. “I was amazed to see him eat beef rare,” he confessed in his book. “Though I had not eaten beef rare, I was forced to challenge him to an eating duel. The result was obvious. Since then I owned that I was no equal to him in eating sukiyaki.”

Even Wakabayashi, however, was no match for slugger Masaru Kageura (1965 Hall of Famer). When Kageura boasted that he could eat as much as onekan(i.e., 3,750 grams) of beef, Wakabayashi betted 5 yen (i.e., large enough to pay for it) against him. The betting took place on a sukiyaki party at Koshien Tennis Club. Kageura ate up a plateful of beef in silence, and Wakabayashi had only to keep his promise.

Sukiyaki has long been familiar with the Tigers from their early days, but it seems to have become less popular. When they are away, they like to have smorgasbord-style dish at their hotel. I cannot but feel nostalgia for sukiyaki which was a favorite for former Tiger players. Kenjiro Tamiya (2002 Hall of Famer) , president of the OB Club of the Tigers, died last May. He once said to me, “We used to sit around one-pot (sukiyaki) meal and talked freely about baseball. I firmly believe that teamwork spirit came naturally out of it.”  I am sure his favorite was sukiyaki. Let me end my essay by saying that I have had the privilege of joining several times one of these parties at the spring camp in Aki City in Kochi
Prefecture.

 

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