“Look, put your chest out! Pull your arms back more, like a spring!”
“I can’t do it anymore! I can’t do it anymore!
“People don’t have limits! I’ve proven that.”
The man who gave the reporter this magazine’s enthusiastic, hands-on instruction was former Lotte ace Choji Murata (72). The training took place in September 2010. Despite the fact that Murata was 60 years old at the time, he was able to throw a straight ball 140 km/h from his “masakari” pitching technique. When we interviewed Mr. Murata to find out why he had not declined even at the age of 60, he suddenly began to instruct us vigorously, saying, “Just mimic my throw for a second.”
Murata was arrested on suspicion of assaulting a female security checker at the security checkpoint in the North Wing of Terminal 1 at Haneda Airport (Ota-ku, Tokyo) shortly before 2:00 p.m. on September 23. According to the Tokyo Airport Police Department, he pushed the woman’s left shoulder with his right hand.
According to the police, Murata was holding a cell phone in his hand and became angry when he was repeatedly caught by the metal detector. Another female inspector called 110 and said, ‘The man is acting up. He was caught red-handed by the police officers who arrived on the scene.”
He denied the charge. I just moved her out of the way because she was standing in front of me,” he said. Mr. Murata was scheduled to participate in the “Dream Baseball” event at Ashibetsu Municipal Baseball Stadium in Hokkaido.
Mr. Murata was released on bail on September 25 and apologized to the assembled press, saying, “I want to sincerely apologize to the woman.”
Rigid fastball against an amateur
Murata, a great pitcher with a total of 215 wins (177 losses), underwent ligament reconstruction surgery (Tommy John surgery) on his right elbow in 1983, but recovered at the end of the following season. He was called “Sunday Choji” because he pitched on Sundays.
He is an honest man at best and a stubborn man at worst. He is not the type of person who listens intently to others and tries to make others understand his own style. Even when playing grass baseball against amateurs, he throws a hard fastball without skipping a beat, which sometimes draws the attention of those around him. He is also particular about his meals and likes to eat high-class Matsusaka beef.
It is quite understandable that he is honest and tries to make others understand his style. Let us go back to the training at the beginning of this article. Murata gave the reporter a towel and instructed him to repeatedly shadow pitch.
He told them, “Swing your arms all the way out!”
Make the towel squish more! Once your form is stable, you will be able to throw fastballs.
The intense training continued for more than 10 minutes. The journalist, who seldom exercise, was exhausted. When he later sent a copy of the magazine with a letter and an article about the interview, he received a phone call on his cell phone from Mr. Murata.
“Thank you very much for the magazine,” Mr. Murata said. “How are you doing now? Have you continued practicing and gotten better at throwing fastballs?”
No, no, no. If I had to do that kind of hard training every day, my body wouldn’t be able to handle it. Mr. Murata seriously instructed me, even though I was an amateur. I hope he will reflect on this incident and show us his unabated fastball again.
Photographed by： Hiroyuki Komatsu, Shinji Hasuo