News


2015-04-29

Son remembers his father, HAYASHI Kazuo the founder of Little League Japan

Memory of HAYASHI Kazuo: My father, my manager and benefactor of baseball By HAYASHI Seiichi, President of Japan Little Senior Baseball Assc.




“Hey Seiichi, what if we start a baseball team using hard baseball?” Father asked son in 5th grade of primary school 50 years ago. Filled with excitement and joy, I started to assemble a team by calling friends who like to play baseball in my town. Their initial response was very disappointing; “Little League? What is it?” For most of them, playing hard baseball by children was scary and dangerous. Nevertheless, after a week of my campaign, I managed to line up players who were lured by my sales pitch that the winner may have a chance to join World Championship in the U.S. Our Chofu Little League did not have uniforms of its own and my mother stitched numbers written by brush paint on white cloth on players’ uniforms. Every player wanted to carry either #1 (Mr. OH) or #3 (Mr. NAGASHIMA) and we decided by scissors-paper-stone.
My father who lead the team as senior manager, began working actively to establish the Little League organization throughout Japan in order to build a team to be competitive against the U.S. In 1967, our West Tokyo team won a national championship and toured to Williamsport, Penn. What he saw in the mecca was the children from all over the world, who did not understand the languages each other, make friends with and have fun whole day. My father probably felt this was the right way and told his players to call on residence of other teams to play with them. This was an about-face for a man who knew only managed baseball. In the meantime, we were surprised to see children from other countries jumped in waters after the games. In those days, swimming was regarded as taboo for baseball players in Japan. My father, however, said that swimming should not be that bad after all because American players were swimming. He declared that we may go into swimming pool every time we win. Although none of us could believe what we heard, the tactic worked for us to win the World Championship eventually.
After coming home, my father wanted to let as many junior baseball players in Japan as possible to share our wonderful experience, and he strengthened his efforts to promote Little League. He also created a Little Seniro organization for junior high players because he wanted Little League players to continue to play hard baseball instead of rubber baseball after 12 years old. Now, after 40 years, Little Senior Association grew to comprise 560 teams all over Japan and produced many professional players.
My father kept saying every time when he received commendations that the honor is for everyone because you cannot do anything just on your own. He may say to us from heaven on his recent induction into the Hall of Fame in Japan that let’s celebrate together because the honor is for everyone.

(April 24, 2015 issue of The Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Japan Newsletter)