Japan’s Best Baseball Catcher and Manager, Katsuya Nomura and His Surprising Entertainment Career | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Japan’s Best Baseball Catcher and Manager, Katsuya Nomura and His Surprising Entertainment Career

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Katsuya Nomura’s 1,140 Days (Shinchosha), which describes the “unknown three years” of Katsuya Nomura during his days as manager of the Shidax baseball team, has been gaining popularity, going into its fourth printing within one month of its release. Hiroshi Kato, who used to work for Nomura for Sports Hochi, describes the unexpected “other face” of the great general. (The author, Hiroshi Kato, who was also Nomura’s chief of staff at Sports Hochi, saw another side to the famous general).

The collaboration with the Masked Girls may seem like a mismatch, but there was a surprising reason for it as well.

Why me?


When the austere singing voice rang out, the floor, filled with an all-standing crowd, erupted in a ground-shaking cheer.

April 3, 2014. Katsuya Nomura was standing on stage at a live concert venue in Akihabara. He was a guest performer at an event for “Masked Girls,” a group that claims to be the strongest underground idol group.

The average age of the 21 idols was 20. The 78-year-old was greeted on stage by their “Nomu-san” call.

 Why me?

The first thing he said brought a smile to everyone’s face. The members urged him to perform an original song written by his wife, Sachiyo, titled “Wife”.

I didn’t hear anything!

He sang with embarrassment. The audience responded with clapping.

The unexpected collaboration between an underground idol and the general manager was a scene that left a lasting impression on me during my four years of coverage as a watchdog reporter.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

The “lifetime catcher” who won the triple crown with his strong batting. He was one of the best general managers in the world of baseball, having won Japan’s No. 1 championship three times.

Nomura had many faces, but his talent as an entertainer was also outstanding. Although he was an authority on baseball, he also appeared on variety shows, and especially in his later years, “Nomura-san” remained a popular TV personality.

The best knows the best.

“I would like to write down the secret story of his friendship with Kinichi Hagimoto, the ‘genera” of the entertainment world, that I have witnessed.”

This is not a gag.

In 2005, Nomura was in his third season as GM and manager of Shidax. “I’m going to be the poster child for baseball for working people,” he said. With such enthusiasm, he had spent the past two years promoting the appeal of amateur baseball. At the beginning of that year, there was a major “tectonic shift” in the amateur baseball world. Hagimoto himself became a manager and established a club team for working adults.

Hagimoto spoke to the media with great enthusiasm.

“This is not a gag. I am serious. I want to play in the finals of the Inter-City Baseball Tournament against Mr. Nomura of Shidax.”

How about DI Baseball,’ which is like ‘Let’s go out with a bang’ against Mr. Nomura’s ‘ID Baseball’?

Hagimoto always used the phrase “Mr. Nomura”. Even non-professionals and working people can leave an impact on the world, depending on their approach. This has been proven by Nomura over the past two years.

On the other hand, some of the corporate team members were not so enthusiastic. What on earth can entertainers do? We are training day in and day out, risking our lives in order to qualify for the City Games.


There was a glimpse of a sense of danger that the “ecosystem” they had established over a long period of time would be disturbed.

How will Nomura react?

Let’s do it!

“One night after the news of the establishment of the Kin-chan baseball team, I visited the ground in Chofu City where Nomura was leading practice sessions. When I broached the subject, he smiled and said, ‘Let’s have a practice game.’

Let’s have a practice game. A club team led by Kin-chan would be very welcome.

Baseball is all about results. Once you get momentum, you don’t know if you’re going to win.

Rather than blackmailing the celebrity “newcomers,” Nomura gave them warm encouragement. This playfulness was another characteristic of Nomura.

* * * * * * * * *

In the early 1970s, when Shinji Mizushima conceived the idea of ​​a film featuring a female professional baseball player and confided it to the professional players he knew, they all responded negatively and only laughed at him. However, only one player, Nomura, responded, “If there is a ball unique to that pitcher, it might work as a single point of reference.”

In 1977, Nomura appeared in a live-action film version of the same story as a difficult manager and player.

Nomura was also a surprisingly flexible thinker when discussing the possibilities of baseball.

Shortly after his entry, Hagimoto paid Nomura a courtesy visit. The Chofu ground. Under the cold weather, they sat by a bonfire and talked about baseball.

Nomura encouraged Hagimoto.

“I want you to get stronger,” Hagimoto said. “I want you to play a central role in making the game more exciting.”

The Ibaraki Golden Goals, backed by their famous general, were called the “Dream Train” and took the baseball world by storm. Hagimoto wowed the crowd with his microphone performance before games, and at the post-game autograph session, he openned autographs endlessly until the last player was signed. He introduced the concept of “pleasing the audience,” which had not existed in the amateur baseball world up to that time, and made it pervasive. In the aftermath of the baseball world reorganization turmoil of the previous year , this was a time when the aspect of “baseball with the fans” was being reevaluated.

Hagimoto won the All-Japan Club Baseball Championship for two consecutive years starting in 2007, and he retired as manager at the end of 2010. The team is still a strong club team under his successor, Yasuyuki Kataoka.

“I wanted to hear Hagimoto’s voice. I wanted to hear Hagimoto’s thoughts on Nomura.”


When the producer asked Mr. Nomura to appear in a special program on TBS about 20 years ago (Kin-chan’s Professional Baseball Special: How Much of a Rare Play Can You Show Us?), he got a disapproving look at first, but then said, “Kin-chan? Then I guess I can’t not go.” He says such stylish lines.

“Even in the studio, when I thanked him for his time, he would say ‘I’m not busy at all!’ His casual kindness has never changed.”


The interview with Hagimoto was conducted via Zoom with his agency. The star power of the “100% viewership rating guy” was alive and well. He seemed to be ready to leap out of the computer screen at any moment, revealing his strong feelings for Nomura.

“When I started the baseball team, I honestly didn’t know where to turn. That’s when Mr. Nomura told me, ‘You’re very welcome.’  Hearing those words, I thought what a kind man he was.”

He also vividly remembers the time when he and Nomura shared a bonfire at a practice field in Chofu.

“He said, ‘You should definitely do it,’ but I said, ‘But you know, Kin-chan, baseball costs a lot of money. Winning the Inter-City Tournament costs tens of millions of dollars per game, so you have to be prepared before you go,'” he said happily. That kindness was there. Whenever I met him, he always left a deep kindness behind. He would leave with a pop and then just go away.”

When Hagimoto joined the team, Nomura, then Softbank manager Sadaharu Oh, and others announced their support one after another, and the Ibaraki Golden Goals were back on track. The team played pay-per-view games with club teams from around the country. If there was not enough money, it was “taken out” of Hagimoto’s personal funds. 

I thought it would be rude to accept money for baseball, so I didn’t receive a single penny. But I was thinking how great baseball was at the time. In comedy, no matter how large the venue, the limit is 1,000 people. But baseball attracts 10,000, 20,000, … 5 million people, you know. Back then, when I appeared in the “Costume Awards,” kids would call me “Baseball Uncle. Baseball was great, and I was grateful to baseball.”

He concluded the interview with a sentiment of deep emotion.

“Mr. Nomura supported me. Things that I couldn’t even imagine were moving forward. That’s why I really enjoyed just playing baseball. Mr. Nomura is a great entertainer. He always thought about his position and movements in front of the audience. I think he was a person who loved to entertain everyone, as the one blabbering after the game.”

* * *

Nomura’s achievements will continue to be talked about from a tactical and managerial viewpoint by his disciples in the baseball world.

In addition, I, as a reporter on the baseball world, would like many people to know that Nomura was a soft-hearted person with a free-spirited mind who saw things in a different light.

The author with Kinichi Hagimoto. Kin-chan was also one of the people who enjoyed the charm of Mr. Nomura.

The “Masked Girls” event at the beginning. One of the members posed this question to the man once known as the “Nomura Revitalization Plant”.

We are a run-down underground idol group, can you revitalize us?”

Nomura said, his tone becoming more forceful.

“If you keep holding on to your dreams…you can!”

The room heated up. “I noticed that Nomura was dominating the idol event, which was supposed to be ‘completely away from home,’ to an impressive degree.”

Coincidentally, the language of the evening primrose flower is “free spirit”.

( Click here to purchase a copy of the much-talked-about book, “The Great General Covered in Sand,” which went into its fourth printing immediately after its release.)

(Click here to purchase the popular book, “The Great General Covered in Sand,” which went into its fourth printing immediately after its release.
  • Fumi Hiroshi Kato Photo Hiroshi Kato

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