Being off from work yesterday, I missed Thursday’s news that Hall of Fame slugger Futoshi Nakanishi had died on May 11 at the age of 90.
Nakanishi’s career as player and manager was like the opening of a Tale of Two Cities. Before injury
In his first seven years, the Nishitetsu Lions third baseman led the Pacific League in home runs five times, doubles once, runs once, RBIs three times, slugging average five times, on-base percentage once and batting average twice.
His swing was ruined by tendonitis in his left wrist in 1960, and was a shadow of his former self for the remaining 11 seasons of his career.
His growth paralleled that of the Lions under Hall of Fame skipper Osamu Mihara, as they became the Pacific League’s second dynasty and the chief rivals to the Osaka-based Nankai Hawks.
Continue reading RIP Futoshi Nakanishi
This is the fifth and final article on the potential for growth of Japanese pro baseball following the national team’s World Baseball Classic triumph. The idea for these posts was Robert Whiting’s quick-hit reaction “WBC title is great for Japan, but NPB needs to concentrate on enhancing its product going forward” in March.
So far I’ve touched on:
Today, I want to address five specific changes that could lead to Japanese pro baseball being a much better product than it is now, and even a superior competition to MLB.
Paying to play
Since Japan’s first pro league opened for business in 1936, it has been a tool for selling newspapers, railroad fares and providing advertising for parent companies. At first there were just a handful of decent ballparks and teams had to share, with most clubs hosting at least a few home games in all the Japan League’s big parks. That’s no longer an issue, but the idea that it’s good enough to rent a stadium to host a game has persisted.
Continue reading A roadmap to better baseball