Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Masaichi Kaneda Speaks, Continued
Continuing the transliteration of the interview K-ball writer Park Dong-hui did with Korean-Japanese pitching legend Masaichi Kaneda/King Kyeong-hong, part 1 at link below:
P: When did you know you wanted to play baseball?
K: Um. We liked baseball, but it was hard to play baseball at the time. Do you know why? Because baseball was American and the Pacific War was going on. Baseball was banned for a long time. I didn't play baseball at all in elementary school (here, literally described as "small school," how elementary school was called in Japan back then). I only started playing baseball in high school.
P: Do you remember how you started playing ball in high school?
K: Baseball is a game you need sense for. You can be fast, you can have strong shoulders. But if you don't have sense, you can't play. I had sense so I started playing in my first year of high school.
P: Actually, that's a pretty late time to start playing baseball. People usually start in elementary school or in the second grade of middle school.
K: I dropped out of school in my second year of high school to turn pro. I became a pro ball player after playing just two years (laughs).
P: You started late, but your skills were unmatched. You played in the national high school tournament too.
K: Yeah, that would be the summer of 1949. I wasn't the ace though, I was the second pitcher.
P: How did you do?
K: First year of high school, we made it to the semi-finals. But second year, we didn't get past the preliminary round. (In a regrettable tone) It's just memories now.
P: Were you a pitcher from the first year of high school?
K: (Nods) Yeah.
P: You left school when your high school team didn't make the playoffs in the summer high school tournament to join the Kokutetsu Swallows. I heard there was a bidding war between Japanese universities for your services.
K: That's true. All the scouts came to our school to try and get me to go to their universities. Waseda University said "you don't have to worry about tuition, just come to our school."
P: Waseda was a good university, even if you didn't play ball there, you would be an "elite" just for going to that school. Lots of baseball players dreamed of playing at Waseda. What made you ditch that to join the Swallows?
K: Simple, I wanted money (laughs). You think it's a joke? It's the truth. It was all because of money. I wanted to make money fast so I could give my parents a comfortable life. (Sips his tea, makes an innocent, childish facial expression) Kaneda-ball was all about the money.
P: So you got paid for your services?
K: A lot. Maximum under rookie rules.
P: Swallows wasn't a strong team at the time. Its owner company wasn't big. Why did you join the Swallows instead of a big money team like the Giants or the Hanshin Tigers?
K: (Makes expression with fingers) Human relations, it was just to be. Just like how we're talking right now. I could have been talking to someone else today. It was destiny and how it was going to be. Stuff like this is important.