Discover Petagini, Manuel, and other big names…In memoriam, former Yakult greats “Ramirez invited us on a super luxury cruise” photo | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Discover Petagini, Manuel, and other big names…In memoriam, former Yakult greats “Ramirez invited us on a super luxury cruise” photo

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At Rami’s Cafe, a Puerto Rican restaurant in Azabu, Tokyo (closed in ’14). Mr. Nakajima on the left and Ramirez on the right.

A famous professional baseball scout has passed away: Kuniaki Nakajima, former international manager of the Yakult baseball team, who died of chronic heart failure on May 29.

Nakajima was involved in scouting for nearly 40 years, and was involved with more than 100 foreigners. Among the assistants he has discovered are many superstars. Alex Ramirez won the batting title four times, the home run crown twice, and the top batting title once. Charlie Manuel, who led the Yakult and Kintetsu teams to championships. Roberto Petagini, who hit 245 home runs in Japan and the United States. ……

Nakajima took good care of his foreign players not only on the field but also in their personal lives. In an interview with “FRIDAY Digital” (August 16 and 29, 2007), “Meihaku” Nakajima reveals some unexpected facts about these excellent assistants. The following is a re-recording of the interview, divided into “Part 1” and “Part 2. The first part begins with a moving story about Ramirez (comments below are by Nakajima, with some corrections).

The manager scolded me at the ballpark, and my wife scolded me at home.

My first encounter with Rami goes back to the spring of 1994. I was visiting the Indians camp, with whom we had a business partnership, every year, and he would say to me, ‘Konnichiwa! Are you okay? He spoke to me in Japanese in a friendly manner. But he was thin and couldn’t hit the ball far enough.

After watching him for the next five years or so, his chest plate thickened over the years, and he became able to hit the ball both ways. He has a lot of charm and a serious attitude toward baseball. I decided that he was suited for Japan and strongly urged the team (Yakult) to acquire him.

However, Ramirez did not fare well when he first arrived in Japan. He hit a lot of pitches and gave up a lot of hits. He was said to have complained to Nakajima, who also served as his interpreter, that he was “not getting any results,” and that he was “not getting the results he wanted.

The manager scolded me at the ballpark for not getting results, and my wife scolded me at home……. I don’t belong here. I have no place to be.”

Nakajima encouraged the depressed Ramirez by inviting him to his home for barbecues and other events.

I couldn’t communicate with the coach, so I asked him for technical advice,” Nakajima said. I advised him to learn how Japanese pitchers distribute their pitches. Rami then sat in the front row of the bench and began to study each pitcher’s pitch distribution. After games, he didn’t even go out for drinks, but instead compiled what he had noticed on his home computer.”

Memory letter received from Ramirez after a cruise trip to which he was invited in the ’09 off-season. Front row, left, is Mr. and Mrs. Ramirez; right, Mr. and Mrs. Nakajima. In the back row are Nakajima’s three daughters.

Thanks to his diligent research, Ramirez awakened. He played in 1,744 games, the most of any foreign player in history, and recorded 2017 hits (1st place), 380 home runs (2nd place), and 1,272 runs batted in (1st place). He was once quoted as saying on the podium after a game for the Giants.

I am able to play well because of Mr. Nakajima, who brought me to Japan. I am grateful to him!

Nakajima continued.

Rami is very disciplined.’ He invited me, my wife, and our three daughters on a 10-day cruise in the Caribbean off the coast of 2009. We could order whatever drinks and food we wanted, whenever we wanted.

And they gave us their own credit card and didn’t want us to pay a penny. In fact, it probably cost about a million yen per person. It was like a dream come true.”

Ramirez’s concern for his family is no different in Japan. Whenever we had dinner, he would give me a watch or other gift, saying, “Give it to your family.

Rami said, ‘I think my ancestors might be Japanese,’ but he was more attentive than a Japanese person,” Nakajima said. (Petagini (whom Nakajima had invited to Japan) often gave me gifts, but all he brought were prizes he had received as home run prizes at games, such as toy baseball boards.

Of the more than 100 foreign players he has scouted, “Rami is definitely number one in terms of humanity and achievements,” he says. In Part 2, we will introduce more secret stories about big-name assistants, such as Horner, who spent a fortune carrying 5 million yen every night, and Parrish, who became homesick after hearing Hibari Misora sing.

Part 2: Former Yakult legend “flirts with his wife in front of the players” and “wants to go back to the US” after hearing Hibari Mis ora sing….

In the mid-1990s, at the Indians’ camp. Ramirez and Nakajima in their youth, when they were still thin and thin.
A photo taken just before a Caribbean cruise in the off-season of 2009. Ramirez, Nakajima, and their three daughters at the Hyatt Hotel in Florida, USA.
Ramirez and Nakajima’s family gathered on the luxury cruise ship. Ramirez’s relatives alone number more than 100 people.
A wristwatch presented by Ramirez to Nakajima’s family. Ramirez was very considerate of his mentor, Nakajima, and gave him gifts at every opportunity.
  • Former international scout Kuniaki Nakajima

    Born in 1952. After working as a temporary interpreter for Nankai from an international school, he joined Yakult in '73. He worked as an interpreter for Manuel and Marcano. He also served as a scout and was involved in the acquisitions of Hosey, Petagini, Ramirez, Bross, and others. Moved to the Giants in 2005. He retired in 2012. Author of "Puroyakyu Saikyou no Suketsugen-ron" (Professional Baseball: The Strongest Assistant Theory) (Kodansha), "Puroyakyu Konyu Interpreter Struggle" (Professional Baseball Interpreter Struggle) (Japan Broadcast Publishing Co.

  • Photo Courtesy of Kuniaki Nakajima

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