30 years after “that summer,” Meitoku’s love for baseball continues
Leading Teikyo Heisei University to the third division in the Tokyo metropolitan area
As Manager of the Breakthrough Teikyo Heisei University Baseball Team
“That summer and our entry into the Tokyo metropolitan area. Both of them are major turning points for me.
Kazuhiro Kono, manager of the Teikyo Heisei University baseball team, said as much.
Teikyo Heisei University won all 12 of its games in the Toto University Baseball League’s third and fourth division replacement tournaments, winning the fourth division with overwhelming force and winning consecutive games against Seikei University, the lowest-ranked team in the third division, to be promoted to the third division in the fall.
Teikyo Heisei University, however, was originally a member of the Chiba Prefecture University Baseball League. Teikyo Heisei University (then Teikyo University of Science and Technology), which joined the league in the spring of 1990, was promoted from the third division to the second division in 1999. The team’s best result was second place, but in the fall of 2021, it finally won its first championship in the second division, and it looked like it had a chance to move up to the first division.
However, the team decided to withdraw from the division 1 replacement game because it had decided to join the Tokyo Metropolitan University Baseball Federation as a new member on January 1, 2022. That was our plan from the beginning,” Kono said.
I became a coach at Teikyo Heisei University in February 1919. I became a coach at Teikyo Heisei University in February 2007. I became a coach of Teikyo Heisei University in February 2007 and a manager in November 2007. I became a coach at Teikyo Heisei University in February 2007 and a manager in November. The school and I agreed from the beginning that we wanted to enter the Tokyo metropolitan area. I would have been a graduate of Senshu in the Tokyo metropolitan area myself. In terms of the level of baseball, name recognition, and post-graduation career paths in Japanese university baseball, Tokyo Rokugaku or the Tokyo Metropolitan University is the best. This is a new start. If the name recognition increases, it will benefit the school’s management and attract good players.
The Toto is a league where the teams that won the first division championship in the spring may finish in the bottom half of the division and drop to the second division in the fall, making it a perfect example of a “Sengoku Toto,” or “Warring States Toto. Teikyo Heisei University, which started in the fourth division, aims to move up from the third division to the second division, and eventually to the first division.
Of course, it won’t be easy. Of course, it won’t be easy. However, as far as the games in the first division are concerned, there is not that much of a hopeless gap between the two teams. First of all, we will aim for promotion to the second division. We are aiming for promotion to the second division first.
A promotion to the first division would certainly be a major turning point for Kono, who is still in his early days as a college baseball coach.
I couldn’t see Matsui’s pitch.
By the way, does the name Kazuhiro Kono (……) sound familiar? The clue is in Kono’s one word, “that summer” at the beginning of this article.
It was the summer of 1992. The Koshien Stadium was abuzz with excitement over the presence of a monster. It was Matsui Hideki of Seiryo (Ishikawa), a.k.a. Godzilla. Seiryo faced Meitoku Jyuku (Kochi) in the second round. The pitcher who gave up all four walks in five at bats in order to shut down Matsui was Kono. This was the so-called “Matsui 5 no-hitter.
I asked Kono many times about that incident. For example,…… the Meitoku Nine watched the first round game between Seiryo and Nagaoka Mukoryo (Niigata), the winner of which was their opponent, from the left field stands. Then, suddenly.
I thought, “This is hopeless. In the first inning, Matsui was at bat, and I thought I heard a bang, but I couldn’t see the ball because it was too fast. When Seiryo was chosen as the opponent and told to start, Mabuchi ( manager Shiro Mabuchi) Mr. Mabuchi (manager Shiro Mabuchi) said, “ Matsui is no longer my opponent.” He said, “Matsui can’t play against us anymore. I didn’t tell him to respect him.
On the mound, Matsui threw 20 pitches in 5 at-bats, all balls, all straight. He was careful not to throw any changeable pitches, because if they were caught poorly, they could end up in the strike zone. In the beginning, I would act as if I was craning my neck and saying, “That’s strange, I can’t get strikes.
If I was a pitcher who could throw 145 If I was a pitcher who could throw 145 kilograms, I would have wanted to compete, but I am a number 8 pitcher, not a professional pitcher. But I am not a pitcher by profession. I have no pride in walking him. Laughs) I’m not proud of walking him.
In the end, Meitoku won 3-2. Because of the high profile of Matsui, the game became a social issue, as it was “not like high school baseball,” and Meitoku, the winner, was completely vilified. The dormitory was inundated with calls of harassment and protests, and not only coach Mabuchi but also the players were unable to leave the dormitory, and police cars escorted them to and from practice. The high school students could not play baseball with a sense of normalcy, and Meitoku was eliminated in the next round.
Tears of the famous coach Mabuchi
“But you know,…… in the meeting after the loss, Mr. Mabuchi cried a lot. All I could hear was, “ You did well.” That’s all I could hear. No matter how much he criticized us, we trusted him and followed him because he was that kind of person. Mr. Mabuchi was 40 years old at the time. He was before 40 years old at the time. When I reached that age, I felt again what a great person he was.
Hiroki Kuroda and other players were his classmates at Senshu University, and he has a total of 111 hits and 21 home runs as a fielder, including two club games. During his two years at Yamaha, he also competed in the Japan Inter-City Tournament. He also played in an independent league in the United States for six years. After returning to Japan, he became a player and manager of the club team Chiba Nekketsu MAKING, which made it to the top four of the All-Japan Club Championships in 2015. He was 39 years old at the time, but was a solid No. 4 hitter. After retiring in 2004, he said.
After retiring in 2004, he said, “I had spent all my time playing baseball, so I spent my days meeting all kinds of people and attending various drinking parties to broaden my network. I also joined the Meitoku alumni association. I also attended the Meitoku OB meetings and met Mr. Mabuchi many times, so it was a period of training.
In December 2006, he attended a training session to restore his qualifications to become a student baseball coach. Previously, those with overseas professional baseball experience were not eligible for this program, but from that year they were able to take the course. In February 2007, after he had successfully regained his certification, Teikyo Heisei University invited him as a coach, as they wanted to strengthen their baseball team. When I went to visit the field at that time, I was told, “Anyway, there is always a field available.
When I went to play on the field at that time, I was always happy to see the field. When I was a member of a club team, I had to wait in line from 5:00 in the morning for a numbered ticket. It was very difficult to secure a field. I am very grateful to have a field that I can use all the time.
Four years have passed since then. In the four years since then, he has led the team, which “has almost no players with Koshien experience,” to a level where they are challenging for the second division in the Tokyo Metropolitan area.
The team is now attracting players from other strong teams.
Thanks to this, the number of members has gradually increased, and although they are not regulars, students from Osaka Toin, Rimsho-sha, Yokohama, and Meitoku have also come to play for us. I feel that this competition has also changed the look of the players. From my experience in the Independent League, American players seem to be playing only with their individuality, but in fact, even the way they hit the ball is very logical. I would like to nurture real sluggers while teaching them such things.
No player from Teikyo Heisei University has yet made it to the NPB (Nippon Professional Baseball). Kono himself tried to make it to the NPB during his playing days, but was unable to do so. One of his major goals is to send his students to the world’s highest level.
I would like to add an interesting later story. One year, I had a chance to talk with Matsui, who had already retired, for a TV program, and we battled for only one at-bat, and that time it was a for-ball from a full count. He had one at-bat against Matsui, which was also a for-ball from a full count.
He said he had one more at-bat against Matsui, which was also a for-ball. That’s why all seven of my at-bats against Matsui have been four balls (laughs).
Exactly 30 years have passed since “that summer.
Interview / Text： Junyuki Yang