Yomiuri chief said meddling in team

Kyodo

Yomiuri Giants representative and general manager Hidetoshi Kiyotake criticized outspoken Chairman Tsuneo Watanabe on Friday for intervening in the club’s personnel matters.

At a hastily called news conference at the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Kiyotake explained that Watanabe told him Wednesday to appoint former Giants ace Suguru Egawa, a well-known baseball commentator for Nippon Television Network Corp., as head coach when all staff positions had already been decided for next season.

“What the chairman did undermines the authority of the owner and general manager,” Kiyotake said. “His reckless conduct betrays not only our coaches and players but fans as well.”

Kiyotake called the news conference through an attorney, saying the Yomiuri Giants would make an announcement on a crucial issue over compliance.

Watanabe, 85, has been one of the most influential figures in Japanese baseball for many years.

In August 2004, he stepped down as Giants owner after the club was found to have paid ¥2 million to Meiji University pitcher Yasuhiro Ichiba in an unethical scouting practice.

Giants owner Tsunekazu Momoi said he is “upset” with Kiyotake. “He talked about the need of internal control, but what Kiyotake has done is completely opposite,” Momoi said.