The Lions win high school star
18-year Daisuke Matsuzaka finally agreed to be a Lion on Dec. 19. His contract is reported to include 100 million yen for the initial signing, an annual income of 13 million yen and another 50 million yen depending on perfomance. The former Yokohama High School ace had been declaring his strong wish to play with the Bay Stars. However, as a result of a lottery, the Lions won the chance to acquire Matsuzaka. Matsuzaka said that he made up his mind to sign with the team after Lions' manager Osamu Higashio presented him his personal treasure-- that's the ball that gave Higashio his 200th win when he was the ace pitcher of the Lions.

Ichiro's 1999 income is the highest
5 time leading hitter Ichiro was offered to play another year with the Blue Wave for 500 million yen on Dec. 16. This is the highest ever one year contract signed in pro baseball history. Ichiro made 320 million in 1998.
Michiyo's Note: It's no question Ichiro should make more than Sasaki. Sasaki played tremendously well for the past 3 years. Ichiro has been ecstatic for 5 straight years.

Takahashi satisfied with contract
Giants' super rookie Yoshinobu Takahashi signed next year's contract with the team after only a 10 minute meeting. This was on Dec. 10. His annual income will be 40 million yen--208 percent up from this season. It's the highest ever raise that a rookie's received from the oldest pro baseball team. He did not, however, surpass the amount that the Dragons have offered '98 Rookie of the Year Kenshin Kawakami who signed for 43 million.

Sasaki signs highest ever contract
The Bay Stars "genie" Kazuhiro Sasaki signed another year with the team on Dec.9. The sum is reported to be 480 million yen. It breaks the highest ever pro baseball player's annual income held by Hiromitsu Ochiai who earned 370 million yen with the Tokyo Giants. At the press conference, Sasaki expressed satisfaction with the amount and the evaluation by his team of his performance in 1997.

Star players sign 1999 contract
Pitcher Kazuhiro Takeda who played for the Daiei Hawks until the end of this season obtained free agent status. He came to an agreement with the Dragons and on Nov. 30 signed for a 3 year 450 million yen contract. Takeda had 13 wins. On the same day Atsushi Kataoka signed a 150 million yen deal for 1999 with the Fighters. Kataoka hit a batting average of .300, 17 homers and 83 RBIs. The future of those qualified to become free agents to look forward to are Atsushi Furuta of the Swallows, Satoru Komiyama of the Marines.

Respected Blue Wave scout dives to death
Katsutoshi Miwata who has been regarded as a quality scout fell from the 11th floor of a high rise apartment in Okinawa on Nov. 27. He was immediately taken to the hospital but was pronounced dead. Mr. Miwata has been credited for having discovered 5 time leading hitter Ichiro. He was in Okinawa to talk to Nagisa Arakaki whom the Blue Wave won the right to draft into the team. However, Arakaki refused to meet anybody from the team. Arakaki has been announcing that if the Daiei Hawks did not won in the draft lottery, he would go on to college. Mr. Miwata is said to have been very depressed from the unsuccessful attempt to see Arakaki, and is believed to have committed suicide for this reason.

Baseball draft
Many young pro hopefuls chosen as the top pick by pro baseball teams were big names in this year's draft held on Nov. 20. They include high school baseball stars Daisuke Matsuzaka--ace pitcher of high school baseball champion team, Yokohama High School, and Nagisa Arakaki of Okinawa Suisan. Matsuzaka has been strongly expressing his desire to play with the Bay Stars--his local team. However, Seibu Lions won the raffle. Meanwhile, Aragaki wished to play for the Daiei Hawks but the Orix Blue Wave won the privelege to acquire him. University and corporate stars have the right to ask teams that they'd like to play with to draft them. Thus Koji Uehara,Japan's national team ace pitcher and a student of Osaka Physical Education University got his way as the first pick of the Tokyo Giants, as did Kosuke Fukudome of Nihon Seimei who was named by the Chunichi Dragons..

The BayStars parade Yokohama
At 11 a.m. on Nov. 4, the BayStars took off from Pan Pacific Hotel in Yokohama and went around the downtown area on a motorcade. According to the BayStars 400,000 peopled turned up to see the winners of the 1998 Japan Series. It's the first time ever that a pro baseball team held a parade in the port city of Yokohama.

'98 Awards
On Oct.27, BayStars' Kazuhiro Sasaki was given the Matsutaro Shoriki Award which is a prestigious award named after the founder of Japan's pro baseball. Then the next day, Sasaki was named Central League MVP. The Pacific League MVP went to Lions' Kazuo Matsui. Rookie of the Year was chosen on that day too. The Central League winner was not Giants' star outfielder Yoshinobu Takahashi. It was pitcher Kenshin Kawakami of the Dragons'. Kawakami won 111 votes while Takahashi earned only 65. In the Pacific League Lions' Tatsuya Ozeki was chosen the best newcomer.

Nomura accepts post with the Tigers
Katsuya Nomura who has left the Swallows with the end of the 1998 season has agreed to head the Tigers for the next 2 years on Oct. 25. The Tigers' owner has been pursuing Nomura with affection since he dismissed Yoshio Yoshida as the manager. Nomura will wear number 82 and will sign a 3 year contract.

Galvez may return to Japan
Giants' pitcher Balvino Galvez may be pardoned and allowed to play again for the Giants it was leanred on Oct. 23. . Galvez was suspended from playing after the July 31 game against the Tigers during which he lost his temper and threw the ball at an umpire. He was fined and was believed will never return to Japan to play. However, Galvez wrote a letter of apology addressed to the chairman of the Central League mentioning how he regrets of having acted against good sportsmanship and is filled with desire to take the Giants to the championship. Manager Shigeo Nagashima certainly is looking forward to Galvez's return to the team.