In Memoriam, Choji Murata: “Meaningful Message” spoken one week before his death
Here, I’ll give you this.” A baseball handed to a reporter for this magazine.
This baseball was handed to a reporter of this magazine in September 2010, after an interview at a hotel in Tokyo. On it, in his own handwriting, he had written, “I’m going to pitch the first pitch of my life.
I will pitch the first complete game of my life.
True to his words, he had lived his life according to his wishes until the very end.
On November 11, former Lotte ace Choji Murata (72 years old), known for his “masakari pitching,” passed away. Earlier in the day, a fire broke out at his home in Seijo, Tokyo, and Murata, who was on the second floor, was rushed to the hospital in an unconscious state. He was pronounced dead shortly before 6:00 a.m.
Mr. Murata was caught red-handed at a security checkpoint at Haneda Airport (Ota Ward, Tokyo) on September 23 of this year for assaulting a female inspector. He was released on bail on September 25, but he seemed dissatisfied with the way he was treated at the security checkpoint.
A fastball to an amateur
Murata was a great pitcher with a total of 215 wins (177 losses), and although he underwent ligament reconstruction surgery (Tommy John surgery) on his right elbow in 1983, he made a comeback at the end of the following season. He was called “Sunday Choji” because he pitched on Sundays.
Murata-san is an honest man. He tries to follow his own style, no matter what the situation. Even when playing grass baseball against amateurs, he would throw a hard fastball without cutting corners, which sometimes caused those around him to back away. He was also particular about his meals and loved to eat high-class Matsusaka beef.
After the interview mentioned at the beginning of this article, Mr. Murata continued to communicate with our reporter. He must have had some feelings about the incident at Haneda Airport. About a week before his death, he called the reporter and left a meaningful message.
He left a meaningful message: “I was arrested, so of course I apologize for what I should have apologized for. But I don’t agree that it is my fault unilaterally. I’m discussing it with the people around me now, but I’ll tell them everything once I’ve calmed down. I also want to insist on my idea.
What is unfortunate is that I can no longer teach baseball to children on remote islands because of the recent turmoil (Mr. Murata had made it his life’s work since 2008 to promote activities to promote remote islands throughout Japan through baseball). These days, the number of children playing baseball is probably decreasing rapidly. They have gone to soccer and basketball. I want to expand the horizons of baseball. It is really frustrating that I can no longer go to the island. Once the case is settled, I want to convey the joy of baseball to children again.
Until the very end, Mr. Murata was determined to follow his own will. He never wavered in his determination to be a “starter and a complete pitcher.
Photographed by： Hiroyuki Komatsu, Shinji Hasuo