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The Black Mist Scandal (Japanese baseball)

Description : In Japan, the Black Mist Scandal (黒い霧事件, kuroi kiri jiken) refers to a series of game fixing scandals in the Nippon Professional Baseball between 1969 and 1971. The fallout from these scandals resulted in several star players receiving long suspensions, salary cuts, or being banned from professional play entirely; the resulting abandonment of baseball by many fans in Japan also led to the sale of such illustrious teams as the Nishitetsu Lions and Toei Flyers (now the Seibu Lions and Hokkaidō ... Page:t


In Japan, the Black Mist Scandal (黒い霧事件, kuroi kiri jiken) refers to a series of game fixing scandals in the Nippon Professional Baseball between 1969 and 1971. The fallout from these scandals resulted in several star players receiving long suspensions, salary cuts, or being banned from professional play entirely; the resulting abandonment of baseball by many fans in Japan also led to the sale of such illustrious teams as the Nishitetsu Lions and Toei Flyers (now the Seibu Lions and Hokkaidō Nippon Ham Fighters).

The term "black mist" was a reference to a political scandal that had enveloped the Eisaku Satō administration in 1966–1967; "bribery was said to envelop politics like a black mist."

History

The scandal had multiple components, involving the yakuza and both professional baseball and professional auto racing. Baseball players and executives were implicated in fixing matches in both sports. The bulk of the revelations around the scandal happened in the fall of 1969 and the spring of 1970. Eventually, more than 15 players and coaches were implicated in game-fixing and baseball gambling, while five players were found to be involved in the race-fixing scheme. Ten NPB players, coaches, and executives — including star pitchers Masaaki Ikenaga, Kentarō Ogawa, and Tsutomu Tanaka — were banned from the game for life.

Game-fixing

On October 7, 1969, the Nishitetsu Lions front office discovered pitcher Masayuki Nagayasu taking bribes from an organized crime family to throw games. The team announced that Nagayasu would be released after the end of the season, and the story was reported in Japanese newspapers the next day. Late in November, the committee of commissioners presiding over the league at the time voted to ban Nagayasu from the league for life, the first time any player had been banned from Japanese baseball.

On April 1, 1970, in an exclusive tape-recorded interview with the Shūkan Post newspaper (broadcast on a Fuji Television news program), Nagayasu revealed that other players on his former team were also involved in game-fixing. The league summoned seven players to testify about their involvement: Nagayasu, team ace Masaaki Ikenaga, pitchers Yoshinobu Yoda and Akio Masuda, catcher Kimiyasu Murakami, and infielders Kazuhide Funada and Mitsuo Motoi. Yoda and Masuda admitted their involvement. Ikenaga claimed to be uninvolved, but had not returned the 1 million yen he had received from Chunichi Dragons pitcher Tsutomu Tanaka (a former teammate — Tanaka pitched for Nishitetsu from 1961–1967) as an invitation to cheat.

A month later, Toei Flyers pitchers Toshiaki Moriyasu and Mitsugu Tanaka were revealed to be under suspicion of throwing baseball games. A subsequent report revealed that Kintetsu Buffaloes front-office official Akira Yamazaki had been coerced into throwing games as a player during the 1967 season.

On May 25, 1970, the commissioner committee issued the following punishments to Nishitetsu players:

  • Masayuki Ikenaga, Yoshinobu Yoda, Akio Masuda: Banned for life
  • Kimiyasu Murakami and Kazuhide Funada: Suspended until the end of the 1970 season
  • Mitsuo Motoi: Given a "severe warning"

In June the commissioners banned the Buffaloes' Akira Yamazaki from baseball for life.

In July, Kintetsu Buffaloes outfielder Masahiro Doi was prosecuted for illegal gambling. He was later suspended by the league for a month.

On July 30, 1970, the commissioner committee issued the following punishments for the Toei players:

  • Toshiaki Moriyasu: Banned from baseball for life
  • Mitsugu Tanaka: Received a warning

On November 30, Hanshin Tigers pitcher Yutaka Enatsu received a stern warning from the Central League president due to "involvement with persons in baseball gambling."

On January 11, 1971, Nankai Hawks pitcher Kiyohiro Miura received a stern warning for receiving an invitation to throw games from teammate Kimihiro Satō and not reporting it. On January 29 of that year, Taiyō coach Takashi Suzuki and pitcher Shōji Sakai were barred from playing in the premiere league for their involvement with the Yakuza. Finally, on February 15, 1971, Lotte Orions pitcher Fumio Narita was suspended for a month for his involvement with bookmakers.

Race-fixing

On April 22, 1970, an auto racer under investigation for rule violations in a race revealed that baseball players were involved in a scheme to fix the results of races. Three men were arrested under suspicion of participating in the scheme: Chunichi Dragons pitcher Tsutomu Tanaka, Taiyō Whales pitcher Isao Takayama, and yakuza member Hirotaka Fujinawa. A few weeks later, Kentarō Ogawa, star pitcher for the Dragons, was arrested for also taking part in the auto-race fixing. Later on in May, Hanshin Tigers infielder Takao Katsuragi was arrested in the auto-race scandal.

In June, the commissioner committee banned Dragons pitcher Ogawa from baseball for life; they suspended the Tigers' Katsuragi for three months.

On September 8, 1970, Yakult Swallows infielder Takeshi Kuwata was arrested for his role in the auto-racing scandal. He would later receive a three-month suspension from the league, but his involvement effectively barred him from signing with another team, and he retired at the end of the year.

Ikenaga's reinstatement

Lions pitcher Masaaki Ikenaga's banning was fiercely contested by both Nishitetsu's front office and Ikenaga's family. His case was not taken up by Nippon Professional Baseball until March 2005, when commissioner Yasuchika Negoro and team owners agreed on a bylaw that allowed banned players who have reformed themselves to petition for a removal of the ban.

Ikenaga requested a removal soon afterwards, and on April 25, 2005, he was allowed to return to baseball.

Timeline

1969

  • October 7, 1969: Nishitetsu front office discovers Masayuki Nagayasu taking bribes from an organized crime family to throw games. The team announces that Nagayasu will be released after the end of the season.
  • October 8: The story is reported in Japanese newspapers.
  • November 28: Nagayasu banned from the league for life.

1970

  • April 1, 1970: Nagayasu reveals that other players on his former team were also involved in game-fixing. Seven players testify on their involvement: Nagayasu, Masaaki Ikenaga, Yoshinobu Yoda, Akio Masuda, Kimiyasu Murakami, Kazuhide Funada, and Mitsuo Motoi.
  • April 22: Auto racer under investigation for rule violations reveals that baseball players are involved in a scheme to fix the results of races. Tsutomu Tanaka (Chunichi Dragons), Isao Takayama (Taiyō Whales), and yakuza member Hirotaka Fujinawa are arrested.
  • May 6: Kentarō Ogawa (Chunichi Dragons) arrested for taking part in the auto-race fixing.
  • May 9: Toei Flyers pitchers Toshiaki Moriyasu and Mitsugu Tanaka are revealed to be under suspicion of throwing baseball games.
  • May 14: Report reveals that Kintetsu Buffaloes front-office official Akira Yamazaki was coerced into throwing games as a player in the 1967 season.
  • May 19: Takao Katsuragi (Hanshin Tigers) arrested in the auto-race scandal.
  • May 25: Commissioner committee issues the following punishments to Nishitetsu players:
    • Masaaki Ikenaga, Yoshinobu Yoda, Akio Masuda: Banned for life
    • Kimiyasu Murakami and Kazuhide Funada: Suspended until the end of the 1970 season
    • Mitsuo Motoi: Severe warning
  • June 3: Kentarō Ogawa (Dragons) banned from baseball for life.
  • June 15: Akira Yamazaki (Buffaloes front-office) banned from baseball for life.
  • June 18: Takao Katsuragi (Tigers) suspended by the commissioner committee for three months.
  • July 1: Masahiro Doi (Kintetsu Buffaloes) prosecuted for illegal gambling. Later suspended by the league for a month.
  • July 30: Toshiaki Moriyasu (Toei) banned from baseball for life. Mitsugu Tanaka (Toei) receives a warning.
  • September 8: Takeshi Kuwata (Yakult Swallows) arrested in the auto-racing scandal. Later receives three-month suspension.
  • November 30: Yutaka Enatsu (Hanshin Tigers) receives a stern warning from the Central League president due to "involvement with persons in baseball gambling."

1971

  • January 11, 1971: Kiyohiro Miura (Nankai Hawks) receives stern warning for receiving an invitation to throw games from teammate Kimihiro Satō and not reporting it.
  • January 29: Taiyō coach Takashi Suzuki and pitcher Shōji Sakai barred from playing in the premiere league for their involvement with the Yakuza.
  • February 15: Fumio Narita (Lotte Orions) suspended for a month due to his involvement with bookmakers.

Players implicated

Warned

  • Yutaka Enatsu (P), Hanshin Tigers — accused of "involvement with persons in baseball gambling;" received a stern warning from the Central League president
  • Kiyohiro Miura (P), Nankai Hawks
  • Mitsuo Motoi (IF), Nishitetsu Lions — given a "severe warning"
  • Mitsugu Tanaka (P), Toei Flyers

Suspended

  • Masahiro Doi (OF), Kintetsu Buffaloes — prosecuted for illegal gambling; suspended for a month
  • Kazuhide Funada (IF), Nishitetsu Lions — suspended until end of 1970 season
  • Takao Katsuragi (IF), Hanshin Tigers — arrested in the auto-race scandal; suspended for three months
  • Kimiyasu Murakami (C), Nishitetsu Lions — suspended until end of 1970 season
  • Fumio Narita (P), Lotte Orions — involved with bookmakers; suspended for a month

Retired

  • Takeshi Kuwata (IF), Yakult Swallows — arrested in the auto-racing scandal; suspended for three months, subsequently blacklisted; eventually retired
  • Kimihiro Satō (P), Nankai Hawks — accused of inviting teammate Kiyohiro Miura to throw games; had already left professional baseball after 1969 season
  • Isao Takayama (P), Taiyō Whales — accused of auto race-fixing; had already left professional baseball after 1966 season

Banned for life

  • Masaaki Ikenaga (P), Nishitetsu Lions (reinstated in 2005)
  • Akio Masuda (P), Nishitetsu Lions
  • Toshiaki Moriyasu (P), Toei Flyers
  • Masayuki Nagayasu (P), Nishitetsu Lions — accused of taking bribes from an organized crime family to throw games. Released after the end of the 1969 season; later banned for life
  • Kentarō Ogawa (P), Chunichi Dragons — arrested; accused of auto race-fixing
  • Shōji Sakai (P), Taiyō Whales— barred from playing in the premiere league for involvement with the Yakuza
  • Takashi Suzuki (P/coach), Taiyō Whales — barred from playing in the premiere league for involvement with the Yakuza
  • Tsutomu Tanaka (P), Chunichi Dragons — arrested; accused of auto race-fixing
  • Akira Yamazaki (P), Kintetsu Buffaloes — former player now an executive coerced into throwing games in the 1967 season
  • Yoshinobu Yoda (P), Nishitetsu Lions — accused of game-fixing
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