Yokohama BayStars chairman Yukio Sunahara said Friday he will resign after the Central League club was known to have been engaged in unethical scouting of amateur prospect Yasuhiro Ichiba.
Hours later, Hanshin Tigers chairman Shunjiro Kuma revealed his intention to step down along with club president Katsuyoshi Nozaki over a similar scandal after Yokohama and Hanshin vied with each other to lure Ichiba.
According to sources familiar with the case, Yokohama paid a total of 600,000 yen to the 22-year-old former Meiji University pitcher in violation of collegiate baseball bylaws, the second such case in just over two months involving the highly touted right-hander.
Sunahara announced his resignation at a news conference in Tokyo on Friday afternoon to take responsibility for the scandal.
“The amount of payment (600,000 yen) is beyond common sense and the act runs afoul of collegiate baseball rules. We will give up on acquiring Mr. Ichiba and I’ve decided to resign as owner to take responsibility,” he said.
Sunahara will continue to serve as chairman of Tokyo Broadcasting System Inc., the parent company of the BayStars.
Meanwhile, Takahiko Beppu, the former general manger of Meiji University baseball team, said, “it was a trivial amount, but he (Ichiba) probably received money” from the Tigers.
In a press conference held Friday evening, the Osaka-based Tigers admitted that they paid a total of 250,000 yen to Ichiba while chairman Kuma and team president Nozaki said they are ready to quit their posts to take the blame.
Nozaki said a Hanshin scout paid money to Ichiba three times between last December and March.
Hanshin senior director Senichi Hoshino, a former manager and a graduate of Meiji University, denied that the payment was an organized act although Nozaki said the club is now investigating the matter.
“I feel responsible for it. We needed to be disciplined more especially because, considering the amount, such payment can be made on the discrepancy of an individual,” Hanshin owner Kuma said.
In August, Yomiuri Giants chairman Tsuneo Watanabe stepped down following revelations that the head of the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper group had broken collegiate rules by paying 2 million yen to Ichiba.
The Giants also dismissed team president Makoto Doi, general manager Hideaki Miyama and deputy general manager Koichi Takayama.
Ichiba did not show up but admitted in a written comment that he had received money from Yokohama on several different occasions, saying, “BayStars officials invited me for dinner and paid my taxi fare home a number of times.”
Ichiba quit the Meiji University team in August after he broke amateur draft eligibility rules by receiving money from the Giants.
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