Kudos: To Bobby Valentine, Trey Hillman, Tsutomu Ito, Kazuhiko Ushijima and all the players who will participate in the Pro Yakyu Charity Game at Tokyo Dome on Monday, March 14.
The card features a team of foreign stars, known as the “Foreign Dreams,” playing against the “Japan Dreams,” a club stocked with native standouts.
Valentine, manager of the Chiba Lotte Marines, will lead the Foreign Dreams, assisted by Hillman, manager of the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters.
Seibu Lions field boss Ito will pilot the Japan Dreams, helped by Ushijima, the rookie manager of the Yokohama BayStars.
The Foreign Dreams roster includes 2004 Central League home run king Tuffy Rhodes of the Yomiuri Giants and Pacific League co-homer leader Fernando Seguignol of the Fighters.
Last year’s Pa League Triple Crown winner Nobuhiko Matsunaka of the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks is on the Japan Dreams, as is the defending Central League batting champion, Shigenobu Shima of the Hiroshima Carp.
Because there are no foreign catchers on the Japanese teams, Shinji Takahashi of the Fighters and Tomoya Satozaki of the Marines will brush up their English and be loaned to the Foreign Dreams to share the behind-the-plate work.
The game will benefit victims of recent earthquakes and typhoons in Japan and the Dec. 26 tsunami that struck the coasts of many Indian Ocean countries.
The format will follow that of a similar game played at Fukuoka Dome in July of 1995 which helped victims of the Great Hanshin Earthquake that struck Kobe on Jan. 17 of that year.
Game time for this one is 6 p.m., and ticket prices are 3,500 yen for S seats, 3,000 yen for A seats, 2,500 yen for a boy-and-girl couple for White Day seats and 1,000 yen for reserved bleacher space.
General ticket sales begin Feb. 26 from 10 a.m. at Ticket Pia, Lawson’s Ticket, CN Play Guide, e+ and at Tokyo Dome box office.
Great idea, and it should be a fun, exciting game that will help alleviate the suffering of those whose lives were disrupted by the recent natural disasters.
E-mail: From former Chunichi Dragons pitcher Melvin Bunch who says, “I am fine and wondering why everyone gave up on me over there. I put up some real good numbers (in Japan) and would love to go back if some team would give me a chance.”
Indeed, he posted a 14-8 mark with a 2.98 ERA in 2000, threw a no-hitter in his second start against the BayStars at Yokohama Stadium on April 7 of that year, and he made the Central League All-Star team. In 2001, battlin’ Bunch was 10-8 with a 3.38 ERA.
Then in 2002, he was on his way to another double-digit victory season with a 7-7 mark and a 3.28 ERA through the beginning of August. Suddenly, one day while driving his car to Nagoya Dome for a game he was scheduled to start, Bunch was stricken with a panic attack and had to go home.
Eventually, he returned to the U.S. to get checked out, and he never came back to Japan.
Now he’s seeing foreign pitchers such as his buddy Kevin Hodges, Gary Rath and Matt Skrmetta of the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles and Brandon Knight of the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters getting a second chance to play in Japan this season and, at 33, the tough Texas native insists he’s ready mentally and physically to give it another go on the mound.
Promotion: The Fighters have decided to continue with their Arizona Diamondbacks Day at one of the games scheduled for Tokyo Dome early this season. Mark your calendar for Sunday, April 17, when the Fighters will host the Eagles in a 1 p.m. start. I will have more information in this column next month.
Lid-lifter: The Eagles inaugural regular-season game on Saturday, March 26, at Chiba Marine Stadium will be televised by NTV, channel 4 in the Kanto area. Game time for that one is also 1 p.m.
Discussion: Members of the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan and the media are reminded there will be a face-off between Rakuten general manager Marty Kuehnert and Lotte field manager Bobby Valentine two days prior to Opening Day.
The event is a press luncheon and Q & A session on Thursday, March 24, beginning at noon at the club in Yurakucho, Tokyo.
Comeback: Finally this week, a few words about Bill Singer, the major league super scout fired by the New York Mets in November of 2003 for allegedly making racially insensitive remarks to Los Angeles Dodgers assistant general manager Kim Ng.
Singer was let go by the Mets just 10 days after he began working for them and has been unable to get another job in baseball — until now. He has been hired as a major league scout by the Arizona Diamondbacks, as you read in these pages on Feb. 10.
A former 20-game winner for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Bill, known during his playing days as the “Singer Throwing Machine,” also pitched in the majors with the Angels, Rangers, Twins and Blue Jays and previously scouted for the Dodgers, Florida Marlins and Pittsburgh Pirates.
He is generally acknowledged as one of the best player talent evaluators in the game, has extensive international experience and understands the game as it is played in Japan, Korea and Taiwan, as well as the Latin American countries.
Singer apologized to Ng for the incident that got him terminated by the Mets, although he said he had blacked out and does not recall exactly what happened.
Now, he says, “Getting back into the game is putting an end to a 15-month nightmare.” He thanked everyone for their understanding and promises to do all he can to restore his good name and re-establish himself as a reputable scout and the respectable human being he is.
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