IN 2001
Ishii's likely to join Dodgers
Kazuhisa Ishii, ace pitcher of the Yakult Swallows was seeking to play in the US through the posting system. And it was learned on Jan 10 that the LA Dodgers had offered him 11.25 million dollars.

Taguchi to join Cardinals
So Taguchi has decided to join the St Louis Cardinals it was learned in Japan on Jan 9. He's to sign a 3 year deal. He said that he will start the year with the Cardinals as if he's really a rookie. The irony is, in the USthe 32-year old will be treated as a rookie despite years of experience with the Orix BlueWave. He joined that team as the number one draft pick in 1992. Taguchi said he turned down the plea from new Hanshin skipper Senichi Hoshino to join the Hanshin Tigers. Taguchi has been one of the best players in the Pacific League. He played on the 2000 Sydney Olympic baseball team and proved to be a reliable player, at bat and out on the field.

Matsui signs for record high contract
As usual on Christmas Day, Hideki Matsui of the Giants consented to and signed the annual rate offered by his team. It's a historic record high of 610 million yen for one year. He exceeded the record high sum held by Ichiro when he was with the Blue Wave. Currently Ichiro is with the Seattle Mariners. On the same day,the Lions' star pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka signed a 140 million yen contract.

Hoshino takes over the Tigers
Senichi Hoshino, who skippered the Dragons until this season formally announced that he has decided to head the Tigers on Dec 19. He asked for only a one year contract. It's speculated that he has demanded that Koichi Tabuchi, his collegiate friend, and former Tigers star catcher to be on the coaching team. Hoshino was chosen the top favorite by the Hanshin management team to replace Katsuya Nomura who stepped down after his wife was arrested.

Nomura steps down amid wife's arrest
D-Day game for the Nomura family on Dec 5. The Tigers' skipper Katsuya Nomura's wife was arrested for deliberately hiding her income and not paying tax. Sachiyo became a household name a couple of years ago when she started to appear on TV variety shows and gaining approval of housewive for her no-nonsense comments. But she was always criticizing people, and so created enemies even among her family members. Her son from her marriage to an American leaker to the Japanese media that she was embezzling money. After her arrest, her husband left for Osaka to speak with Hanshin officials, and held a press conference at midnight to announce that he was leaving the team.

Terahara's draft winner
The pro baseball draft meeting took place on Nov 19. High school baseball star Hayato Terahara was the first choice for 4 team. They're Chunichi, BayStars, Giants, and the Hawks. Sadaharu Oh, successfully drew the right envelop to win the right to Terahara. However, Terahara said that he was not sure if he'd join the Hawks.

World Cup in Taiwan
Japan has send professional players, including Giants Yoshinobu Takahashi, and Shintaro Abe. From the amateur side, high school star Hayato Terahara is taking part too.
*3rd place: vs Taiwan
Japan could not even bat in a run. And it lost to Taiwan 0 to 3. Japan finished 4th in the competition.
*semifinal: vs Cuba
It was a competitive game. It was on Tadahito Iguchi's grounded ball that Japan scored first. Then in the 5th, Cuba scored. The game at 1-1 went into extra inning. In the 11th, Cuba scored on a sacrifice fly to break tie, and added one more run to win 3 to 1.
*quarterfinal: vs South Korea
Japan scored in the first inning through Tadahito Iguchi's RBI. The Koreans caught up in the 2nd inning. Then in the 4th and the 7th, Japan added in a run each to win 3 to 1.
*vs the Netherlands
For the first time Japan was threatened in a game. It won 6 to 5.
*vs Canada
Japan wins 6 to 2 on Nov 13. It's advance to the final round was secured.
*vs Australia
Japan wins 8 to 0

*vs Cuba
A game that Japan tackled very seriously as the national team has not won over Cuba for a long time. Japan was the first to score as the batter was walked with bases loaded on Nov 10. Yoshinobu Takahashi grounded the ball to right to hit in a run. Cuba fought back. But in the end Japan won 5 to 3, making it its first World Cup victory from Cuba.

*vs Russia
Japan wins 12 to 0

*vs Panama
Japan wins 10 to 1

*vs Philippines
The Daiei Hawks' Tadahito Iguchi blasted a grand slam. High school star Hayato Terahara pitched smoothly during 2 innings. Japan wipes out the Philippines 21 to 0 on Nov 7.

Former Nankai star dead
Former Nankai Hawks ace Tadashi Sugiura was found dead in a hotel Sapporo on Nov 11. He was 66. He was there as the manager of an Osaka team in the newly established Masters League. Sugiura was famous since his college days with Rikkyo University with his colleague Shigeo Nagashima "Mr. Giants" He joined the Hawks in 1958 and won 27 games in his rookie year. He won 187 games in all and retired in 1970. He became the Hawks' skipper in 1986. He became a Hall of Famer in 1995. Nagashima said on TV that he knew that Sugiura was sick for the past few years, but came to cheer him on before a game last year.

Masters League launched
On Nov. 1, the Masters League was ceremoniously opened by former pitcher great Shoichi Kaneda and at bat Shigeo Nagashima. It was at the Tokyo Dome. And what astonished fans were former Lotte Ace Choji Murata pitched fast balls reaching 138 km/hr and he's 51 years old. His team, Tokyo Dreams defeated the Sapporo Ambitious 3 to 0. There are 5 teams in the league and they will play until Jan 23, 2002.

Non-Japanese players won the 2001 season's most valuable player award in both leagues. Roberto Petagine of the Yakult Swallows was chosed from the Central League, and Tuffy Rhodes of the Kintetsu Buffaloes from the Pacific League.

Kiyohara decides to stay
Superstar Kazuhiro Kiyohara told the media on Oct 27, that he will not become a free agent. He said that after speaking to the new Giants' skipper Tatsunori Hara, he decided to play with the team to finish his career.