Sumio Mizota, Obama High School baseball team manager, “To retrieve something forgotten 34 years ago.” | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Sumio Mizota, Obama High School baseball team manager, “To retrieve something forgotten 34 years ago.”

Timeless "Showa High School Baseball" (2)

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With the advent of the 2021 season, high school baseball has undergone a dramatic evolution in terms of tactics, practices, and training methods. In the midst of all this, the “ Showa-era high school baseball.” There are great generals who continue to stick to the At first glance, their ideas may seem anachronistic, but they have firm convictions that are still relevant today.

Sumio Mizota, Manager, Obama High School Baseball Team, Nagasaki Prefectural Obama High School

A man who has been on the ground for more than half a century

On the day of the semifinals in the summer of 2021, it was announced that Mitsuo Maeda, the three-time spring and summer champion coach of Teikyo, would be retiring.

When I heard of the retirement of this rare and famous coach, the name of a veteran coach flashed through my mind. It was Sumio Mizota, the coach of Nagasaki Prefectural Obama High School. Born on October 14, 1946, Mizota is 74 years old and has led Kohama to the Koshien National Championships as the “last representative of Nagasaki Prefecture in the Showa period. He has been on the field for Obama since March 26, 1970, the year he graduated from university, making this his 53rd season as a coach. He is one of the few “managers for half a century,” even in Japan.

Ogaki Nichi-Dai’s Keizo Sakaguchi is in his 55th season as manager, counting from his appointment as Toho coach in 1967; Yukio Kiuchi, who passed away the year before last, led Toride II and Joso Gakuin for a total of 50 seasons; Motochi Watanabe of Yokohama, who retired in 2015, had 45 seasons as manager; and Koshien’s Motochi Watanabe, who won 68 games in his career, ranked first in Japan. Hitoshi Takashima, the manager of Chiben Wakayama, boasts a combined total of 46 seasons of coaching experience with his time at Chiben Gakuen.

In his 53rd year at the helm, Mizota has never once left his post as manager of the same school, a feat that is nothing short of “superhuman.

The last representative of Nagasaki Prefecture in the Showa period to go to the Koshien in the summer

First of all, Mizota has an interesting background. Immediately after graduating from Fukuoka’s Seinan Gakuin University, he personally approached Obama High School, asking if he could coach the team. He has been an outside manager in the small town of Chijiwa-cho on the Shimabara Peninsula (Unzen since 2005) while running a clothing store that was established in 1929. At the time, the club was a softball club, with only three members at first. Moreover, Mizota, fresh out of college, did not have a regular driver’s license, and for the first year he took the local bus to the field.

In the fall of 1974, the team became a hardball team. Mizota collected signatures from local residents and submitted them to the school’s staff meeting in order to get the school to move to the Koshien National Championships. Fourteen years later, in 1988, Kohama participated in the 70th summer Koshien as the last representative of Nagasaki Prefecture in the Showa period. Many people in the prefecture had given up hope that it would be possible, but Mizota succeeded in achieving the long-held dream of “Koshien from the Shimabara Peninsula and Koshien from Unzen.

Even if it is said to be out of date

The Kohama Nine, who finished second in the prefecture in the spring of 2009

In the spring of 2021, Kohama made a great leap forward with only 16 elite players to become the runner-up in the prefecture. They defeated Soseikan, Nagasaki Nichidai, and other strong private schools one after another, and came within one step of their first prefectural championship since the summer of 1988. In their game, they played solid, highly repeatable baseball, as if they were veterans of the game. Whenever a runner was hit by a pitch, they would send him to the next base with a textbook bunt to score a run. Regardless of how the game was unfolding, he would do his utmost to avoid a hard-hitting attack in pursuit of a big inning.

Some say we are out of date, but as long as we choose a method with a high probability of success, we can’t help but stick to the basics.

At the award ceremony after the second place finish in the spring prefectural tournament, he said, “The students did a great job of embodying what I usually say, ‘What you lack, you must make up for. They embodied the beauty and charm of high school baseball. At the same time, he said to the players in tears of frustration , “Pathetic! Our motto is “Don’t cry, don’t laugh, don’t get excited! and thunder. The “half-century coach” is not about to bend his opinion on the emotional expression of high school students.

In one of his books, Sadaharu Oh wrote that he was severely scolded by his older brother when he struck a gut-punch on the mound at Koshien. First of all, respect your opponent. In our time, we did not even have the idea of striking a gut-pose. In that respect, I may be going against the wishes of modern children who tend to explode with emotion, but I am going to ask you to listen to my selfishness in this regard.”

Views on limiting the number of pitches

Hot-blooded coaching is still alive and well

There has been some excitement about the “500 pitches per week rule,” which was adopted the year before last for health reasons to protect pitchers’ shoulders and elbows from damage. Against this backdrop, Obama’s 2021 ace, Kenshiro Nakano (Senshu University), pitched all six games in the spring tournament. No matter how you slice it, there is no violation of the 500 pitches in a week rule, so there is no problem under the rule. But what about public opinion, which is growing more critical of him every year? Again, Mizota is as determined as ever.

Of course, it would be ideal to have more than one pitcher. It would be even better if we had a left-handed pitcher. However, for a team like ours with a small number of members, it would be ideal to have a short reliever who usually plays second base and can relieve the shortstop when the situation calls for it. However, if there are no such players, we have no choice. Of course, there should also be a pitch rule. However, a small baseball club like ours can’t be so forward-thinking, even if we wanted to be.

Manager Mizota goes so far as to say.

The beauty of high school baseball is the drama of losing a single game. When that is the case, you can’t help but feel that you want to win this game. At least, that is the way I fight as long as I am the director.

At first glance, this opinion may seem backward, but as one who has been involved in high school baseball for more than 50 years, his comments are not a little on the mark.

As a leader, you should walk with your players.

Mizota says, “There are certain aspects of student baseball that should not change.” However, this may also mean that “leaders must not blur.

A leader of student baseball should walk with his players.

He has finally come to accept the meaning of these words, which he was given in college, after 50 years of coaching.

It is no good to be too far ahead of the players. It is also no good to be too far behind. Of course, the stride and pace of walking may change with the times. From my teaching experience, I have found that the cycle of change is about 15 years. I realize that this will come in about a year. Each time this happens, I find myself at an impasse and struggling, but if I walk shoulder to shoulder, it is never too much to ask for guidance. In the past, my paces have clearly been too far ahead of the others, and I have had to take a 3 Eight members in the first year On one occasion, two members left the withdrawal form in my store and went home. I think sometimes I needed to walk a little more behind my students so I could give them a pat on the butt.”

Coach Mizota and the Kohama Nine aiming to compete in Koshien this summer

34 To get what was forgotten years ago

In the summer of 1988, the only Koshien in Obama’s history, the team was defeated 1-19 by Joso Gakuin in the first round. Thirty-four years have passed since then, but one regret still lingers in coach Mizota’s mind.

Koshien was a fireworks display. The rest of high school baseball is like sparklers. Of course, big fireworks are beautiful and can move many people at once. On the other hand, sparklers give deep taste and impression to a small number of people in a small range. Local high schools in a small area like Obama are truly sparklers. Of course, we are doing this with the thought, ‘Once again, we will have sparklers at Koshien.

However, 34 I myself was completely swallowed up by the sheer scale of the Koshien Stadium the summer before last. If the coach is not firm, it is a big problem. When it is decided that a team will participate in the Koshien, there is a wave of people that is not half as large as before, and an expansion of encounters that would have been unimaginable before.

Will he really be able to get a grip on the students under such circumstances? I was so exhausted even before we left that I thought to myself, ‘I don’t need to go to Koshien anymore. I felt that winning the Nagasaki prefectural championship would be enough. By the time I went to Koshien, I myself was completely exhausted. If I am given another chance, I would like to face that giant fireworks display head-on this time.

Even after 50 years of leadership, the old general’s fighting spirit shows no sign of waning. Until one day, he will have what he left behind in the last summer of the Showa era. Sumio Mizota’s dream is getting bigger and bigger every year.

  • Interviews and text Keisuke Kaku

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