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2013年4月 3日 (水)

長嶋氏と松井氏 師弟の国民栄誉賞を祝いたい

[The Yomiuri Shimbun] April 3, 2013
Editorial / Awards for 2 baseball legends a cause for celebration
長嶋氏と松井氏 師弟の国民栄誉賞を祝いたい(4月2日付・読売社説)

"Mr. Pro Baseball" and "Godzilla" will simultaneously be given an award. This is glad tidings for spring, the start of the professional baseball season.

The government decided Monday to grant the People's Honor Award to Shigeo Nagashima, the Yomiuri Giants' honorary lifetime manager, and Hideki Matsui, a former slugger for the Giants and New York Yankees.

Both players have made shining achievements and contributed greatly to the development of Japanese pro baseball. Both are widely loved in Japan. Everyone would surely agree they deserve this award for these reasons.

We congratulate both men on being selected for this prestigious accolade.

Sadaharu Oh and Sachio Kinugasa are the only other pro baseball players who have won this award. The names of Oh and Nagashima--Yomiuri teammates whose feats formed the cornerstone of pro Japanese baseball--will now sit alongside each other in the records of the award.

'Mr. Baseball' the mentor...

Nagashima has of course made a remarkable contribution to the development of pro baseball as a national sport. Nagashima spell-bound fans with a number of memorable performances, including a game-ending home run in 1959 at the first game attended by the Emperor.

Many children began playing baseball after being inspired by Nagashima and his uniform with the number "3" on the back.
Nagashima's constant cheerfulness also greatly contributed to his tremendous popularity.

During his retirement ceremony following his final game in 1974, Nagashima told the crowd, "My Giants are eternally indestructible." Old-time baseball fans still speak of this moment.

During his managerial career at the Giants from 1974 to 1980 and from 1992 until 2001, his team won the Central League pennant five times and the Japan Series twice.

Nagashima suffered a stroke in 2004 and is still doing intensive rehabilitation exercises. After the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011, Nagashima said, "Compared with the hardships people in disaster-affected areas are going through, my illness is a trivial matter." His invariably positive attitude must have encouraged many people.

...and 'Godzilla' the mentee

Matsui has looked up to Nagashima as a mentor throughout his career.

During his time with the Giants, Matsui led the Central League in home runs and RBI three times, and was the league's leading hitter once. His prodigious hitting made him the face of Japanese professional baseball.

Matsui's sincere dedication to improving his skills has been quite impressive.

In 2003, Matsui moved to the Yankees, and in the 2009 World Series, he unleashed some spectacular performances that made him the first Japanese to become the Most Valuable Player in a series. Matsui's achievements undoubtedly helped Japanese baseball win higher recognition in the United States.

We hope Matsui, who has retired from active competition, helps foster younger players as a coach by handing down his superb hitting technique.

The award for Nagashima and Matsui will also be a source of pride for Japanese professional baseball, which has just started this season's pennant race. We hope the award adds some extra spark to baseball, which has become firmly entrenched as Japan's national sport.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 2, 2013)
(2013年4月2日01時21分  読売新聞)


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