Dai Sasaki(fictitious name)/professional baseball autographs

It’s been quite a time since I updated.
In the meanwhile,Shinnosuke Abe achieved 2000 hits.

And then,three successive games in Jingu-Studium.
The first game was canceled due to rain.
Praise the efforts of our members who lined up and entered the Studium only to eat a curry & rice in the rain.

By the way,this autograph is Hiromi Makihara’s.
He is a perfect-game pitcher.

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Masaichi Kaneda joined Kokutetsu-Swallows in 1950. In his 20 years as a player, he had 400 wins, the most victories in the history of Japanese professional baseball.
Pitching appearance: 944, Pitching a complete game: 365, Balls thrown: 5526.2, Strikeout record: 4490. The unprecedented record will never be broken in the future.
In both baseball teams which he belonged to, Kokutetsu-Swallows and Yomiuri-Giants, his uniform number 34 is a permanently retired number.He also was an manager, and founded Meikyukai (:an excellent ball player’s association) and has been called “Emperor of the baseball world”.And he writes almost no autograph.

led by Kaneda (Retired as of 2017) holds baseball games and lessons all over Japan by excellent players who retired from professional baseball. It is part of the lottery contributions to society. They hold lotteries at each venue and some lucky winners get signatures of the players.
Though Mr. Sasaki ran after the < Dream team > everywhere in hopes of winning Kaneda’s signature, he failed in Gunma, failed in Hitachinaka, failed in Osaka and in Hiroshima. Tochigi was no good either.Hopelessness. He waited in the pathway of Kaneda and lowered his head, saying to him.”Please give me your autograph “. 
With reluctance, it was the most stereotypical direct attack.


“Give my autograph to you? I won’t write it.”
The great pitcher well-known for scattering fans with a fan was very brusque that day, too.
“Please! I want your autograph by all means!”
Mr.Sasaki appealed feverishly, but Kaneda looked away and fanned himself briskly.However eagerly Mr.Sasaki appealed, there was no reaction at all. 
Mr.Sasaki thought that it was impossible.
He thought: it is no longer happy if I keep on.Not only for Kaneda. But also for me.
When he gave up and was about to leave, suddenly, Kaneda said, “Hey, hand it to me”.Mr.Sasaki, surprised, held out the card for autographs, and the great pitcher wrote his signature quickly with characters full of energy and returned the card. He was blunt, but it was not an unpleasant feeling.

・・・Oh,  this person is actually very gentle at heart.
Unexpectedly, Mr. Y became full of a happy feeling.
He came to love Kaneda all of a sudden.

OK! I did it! It’s possible, isn’t it?
Kaneda is a good person, isn’t he?
The feeling of accomplishment to have dropped an impregnable fort.

Once a person captures chance, it’s natural for him to carry on a lucky wave. Soon after, Mr.Sasaki won a signed ball of his really really favorite player, Masaichi Kaneda, in < Dream baseball >.

Why two ?

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I wish everyone can become happy.Mr. Sasaki says so.

But there are some people who won’t become happy easily.
Tsuneo Horiuchi, who was a key pitcher that supported Giants’ golden age and also an ex-manager, always seems very earnest and expresses his happiness very rarely.
He is a tender person but not as expressive, I guess. He writes few autographs, but when he does, they are for children.He seems not to want to write it for a cheerful adult like Mr. Sasaki.

One day, Mr. Sasaki wanted Horiuchi’s autograph and went again to the said < Dream Baseball >.
A Little League Team had just arrived and children were getting coached by Horiuchi.
Mr. Sasaki prowled around, but as expected from Horiuchi, he didn’t allow Mr.Sasaki any opportunity.
After prowling for a terribly long time, Mr.Sasaki happened to discover a person who won Horiuchi’s autograph in the lottery.Mr. Sasaki tried negotiating him.”Well, I want a signed ball of Horiuchi.Will you trade with one by ~ which I won?”

To tell the truth, he wanted a signature directly, but sometimes he tries making such a deal.
He held out this and that until the other was satisfied and Mr. Sasaki parted with an autograph by Horiuchi somehow.

The other side is happy. Mr. Sasaki is happy, too.Of course Horiuchi will be happier than if he is run after by an outgoing adult like Mr. Sasaki.
Mr. Sasaki says that when nobody feels unpleasant, it’s good.
Nobody is unhappy.It is a wonderful way to get an autograph.

Choji Murata

Shigeru Takada

Hiromi Makihara

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Mr. Sasaki had been unrelated to baseball until he became an adult.As a child, he played by chasing after dragonflies near the Tonegawa River.When he grew up, he loved to play with girls.
One girl who he was going out with was a Yomiuri-Giants fan. She invited him to go to Tokyo Dome to watch a baseball game together.She said “When watching a baseball game, it’s more interesting in the outfield seats.”As he was told, he began to go see games in the outfield seats.It was around the late 90s.

Seeing a baseball game live for the first time was very impressive,but what in particular attracted Mr. Sasaki’s attention was the throw-in balls.
Giants players who took up defensive positions at the top of the first inning threw their signed balls into the seats. Many people competed and tried to catch the balls.
Seeing those that caught the balls, Mr. Sasaki became seriously envious.

It was difficult to catch a thrown-in ball. Mr. Sasaki was exceptionally poor at catching them.
Rose, a center fielder, always threw his signed balls to the same position of near the 54th passage.Mr. Sasaki sat at that seat and managed to get a signed ball somehow.That was the beginning for him to get an autograph in his hand.

Hiromi Makihara:a perfect game picther

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After some time, Mr. Sasaki came to want an autographed baseball card. It was in about 2000.
A baseball card has a photograph of each player on it.So everyone enjoys seeing them.
Such being the case, he asked an experienced autograph-hunter about the know-how.
For example, it’s to wait for players in their pathway and ask for their autograph. “Please sign!”.

It is difficult to do such a thing only by oneself. Coordination and cooperation among companions was required. 
The rare ability of Mr. Sasaki was the speed in making such relationships.He asked friends and made such a network in a flash.
“I won’t do something stingy,” said Mr. Sasaki.”I don’t intend to make a profit alone. Some want to attract other’s attention to themselves, but I don’t intend to make my existence stand out.”

It’s by far smarter to do something by relationship, instead of piling up money, Mr. Sasaki says.
“From the beginning, I didn’t think that I would buy a signature and a ticket at a high price.”

・・・It’s boring if I clear this game with money.I use my brains, I spend time and effort, and then, I will splendidly capture it in return.With the hurdle of making sure it is happy for everyone.

Yuya Kubo

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The scene to get autographs are full of troubles.
Quarrels are nothing out of the ordinary.They often almost become riots.
Some show offs try to squeeze their way into the row once they get to be a little known.

Some say “I am a Giants-fan” but want to get signatures both for collection and for sale.Some claim that he is a Giants-fan, but put autographs up on Yahoo Auctions.
Sometimes a line is not even established in the first place.

There is no guardsman.It is full of trouble. And players are completely in their private time. They often will refuse, and some players won’t give signatures unless for a girl.

Nothing advances on schedule.
Thus Mr.Sasaki cooperates there, reads the situation, and watches for a good chance.

“The player who we had been eagerly looking forward to came over. But we must not force ourselves at him.This player always goes to put his baggage down and comes back to buy a drink. We wait until then to talk to him.”

Have a sharp eye. Behave politely. And suppress the situation.
To understand the atmosphere, and to hold it.
The one in control is myself.

In the wild wasteland with no guarantee, his arm is tried.Mr.Sasaki was hooked on to the powerful charm and fell further and further into the depth.

Tetsuya Utsumi

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Let’s talk about something personal now.
I became acquainted with Mr. Sasaki at an advance ticket office of Tokyo Dome.My family had been going to the baseball stadium as a Yomiuri-Giants fan for many years.Let’s talk about something personal now.
I became acquainted with Mr. Sasaki at an advance ticket office of Tokyo Dome.My family had been going to the baseball stadium as a Yomiuri-Giants fan for many years.
In around 2000, when Mr. Sasaki’s craze about autographs began, the situation surrounding the Giants was shaken violently.

Giants had remained low in the late 90s, but they finally won the Central League championship in 2000.
In 2002,the year after the next,they beat Seibu-Lions at the Japan series, defeating them four games in a row. The outfield stand went wild, but behind the scenes, various struggles for power were intensifying.
In 2003, Tokyo Dome abolished outfield non-reserved seats and cut the rudder towards fully reserved seating.
As for cheering, as for how to get seats, the outfield changed completely.

Our group lined up at the ticket agency of Ginza to get outfield reserved seat tickets, but did not succeed because we had so adapted ourselves to the unreserved seating system.
We tried there for several years in vain, and finally, decided to line up at Tokyo Dome on an advance sale day.

Mr. Sasaki was already organizing groups at that time.The members of the group were corps of an elite troop.They showed guts when lining up. Besides, they were very particular about
their seat number.
Mr. Sasaki, at a glance, seemed to be a showy person that we couldn’t approach easily.But once we got to know him, he was honest and talkative and sincerely showed admiration and appreciation for people.
A characteristic of his was his ability to involve others in his enthusiasm. Mr. Sasaki was always the center of the group.

Hisayoshi Chono

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While the outfield seats and the supporters were changing, Mr. Sasaki’s autograph collecting obsession deepened year after year.

“I won’t go to a discount ticket store. I won’t depend on auctions.” Mr. Sasaki says.”I don’t want what they have.”
He keeps on going to line up and waits persistently.

“You need to be diligent,” Mr. Sasaki said.
...We must not be selfish. We should value communication.
We should labor without stint and must not cut corners.
With that in mind, we will gain something appropriate to that effort.

From the beginning, Mr. Sasaki instinctively knew the logic of the place that we learned in the days of the unreserved outfield seating.
Move yourself.Stay in the place by yourself.You must be modest, and you should cooperate with people.
You must not choose the easy way out.If you depend on others, you will be controlled, and your right will fall into others’ hands.

And this is what was in his bag on the day when we spoke to Mr. Sasaki for the first time.
Signed cards of all the Giants players of 2008.