The Yomiuri ShimbunThe following is a translation of the Henshu Techo column from The Yomiuri Shimbun’s July 5 issue.
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A microphone placed somewhere in the baseball stadium picked up the conversation, and it went on the air. Toshi Kaneko, the commissioner of Nippon Professional Baseball at the time, was heard saying, “I’m begging you [as commissioner to back off].” To this, Toshiharu Ueda, then manager of the former Hankyu Braves, responded, “So what?”
It was the seventh and final game of the 1978 Japan Series between Yakult Swallows and Hankyu. The umpire had called Yakult slugger Katsuo Osugi’s long drive that shaved the left pole a home run, but headstrong Ueda insisted it was a foul ball. He even demanded that the left-field umpire be replaced, prolonging the protest. It lasted an hour and 19 minutes.
Needless to say, the protest, which totally disregarded baseball fans, took a lot of flak. Considering the reckless things he said and the time he spent on it, Ueda should not be commended for his persistence.
But having said that, I am still reminded of him on the field that day from time to time. Get on with the ballgame! Millions of spectators across the archipelago must have cursed in front of their TV sets. He was all on his own and had taken the mute jeerings for an hour and 19 minutes.
Ueda, the illustrious skipper who had thrice led Hankyu to the top spot in Japan, died at the age of 80. Poet Utsubo Kubota (1877-1967) had previously composed a tanka, which goes like this: “But one notion keeps me going: If I am going to take any criticism, it will only come from me.” Alas, that man, that day!Speech