Daily Archives: 21 January 2006

How Baseball Came to Darwin, NT

Like the other states, the Northern Territory had played baseball informally for many years before joining the national competition. Japanese fisherman and, later, American servicemen were first to play the game there. Organized baseball in the Northern Territory started in 1953 through the efforts of Charles Se Kee, a leading citizen of the Darwin Chinese community and president of the Darwin Basketball Association. Northern Territory baseball was limited to far-flung Darwin, Alice Springs, Katherine, and Tennant Creek….

Darwin baseball began humbly with a competition among four teams. Equipment was expensive and difficult to obtain. While there were enough teams for a decent competition, lack of adequate facilities was a major problem. One player remembers: “We didn’t have any baseball diamonds. We had the old Darwin Oval, used as an area for public functions. In those days there was no grass on the field, and it was just dirt and rock. We had to paint the lines. We didn’t have lime in those days. It didn’t matter because there was no grass. We played on the oval with a cliff behind us, and any foul balls would probably go off into the sea. The games were held up while we got kids to go down and try to find the ball.” From its beginning baseball in Darwin was played at the wrong time of year, during the wet season from 1 October to the end of March. Darwin Baseball League tried a supplementary dry season competition in 1956, playing at Coonawarra Oval with moderate success. Subsequent supplementary dry season play was attempted in 1964-68 but was dropped in favor of wet season competition, which players supported [probably so they could keep playing cricket during the dry season–J.]. As baseball became more competitive, though, Darwin changed permanently to dry season baseball in 1984.

SOURCE: A History of Australian Baseball: Time and Game, by Joe Clark (U. Nebraska Press, 2003), pp. 78-79

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The Fun Side of Being Korean in Japan

On 14 January, Asahi Shimbun profiled a wildly successful, independent-minded, Japan-resident Korean, Kwak Choong Yang.

When entrepreneur Kwak Choong Yang was growing up in Japan, it is unlikely he could ever have imagined what would be happening here today. Though just a dozen or so years ago, many Japanese had negative perceptions of Korea, now they can’t seem to get enough of all things Korean, and interest in the country’s culture has never been stronger.

“True, some zainichi (Korean residents in Japan) are offended by all this. But we should welcome the fact that there is so much interest in our cultural roots,” says Kwak, a second-generation Korean resident in Japan. The 49-year-old set up a publishing business eight years ago and has been introducing Korean culture to Japan….

It was before World War II that Kwak’s father, aged 7 and all alone, arrived in Japan, where a relative lived. He worked his way up from the mines to management consultancy, the field in which he built a fortune.

Although the young Kwak grew up in comfort in Osaka, discrimination weighed heavily upon him. He was shocked when he secretly read about the “nationality clause” at the junior high school library. He realized there were restrictions on the jobs zainichi could hold in public service. He is still haunted by the memory of running out of a high school classroom after he announced his real name instead of his common name in Japanese. Kwak is therefore respectful of fellow zainichi who are grappling with discrimination.

“Even so, I want to tell people it’s fun being a zainichi,” he says. “Denial won’t achieve anything. We shouldn’t fear the changes surrounding the zainichi community.”…

Kwak takes a liberal approach not only to the gender of his staff, but also to his employees’ academic backgrounds.

He has hired high school graduates, and his company has no age-based retirement policy.

“I see myself as a dropout,” he says. “I feel afraid of clean-cut companies where 5,000 people wearing the same suits work. So it was really no use creating a similar, stifling organization. My employees don’t call me ‘president’ anyway.”

via Japundit

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Big Upsets in Sumo’s Starting Basho

This year’s first grand sumo tournament started off with the Georgian rank-and-filer Kokkai (‘Black Sea’) playing giantkiller, downing first grand champion Asashoryu, then newly promoted champion Kotooshu. Kokkai doesn’t have much to show for it by now, but he did help clear the way for others to rise to the top.

Here’s the Japan Times report after Day 13.

Tochiazuma dismantled Bulgarian fellow ozeki Kotooshu to take sole possession of the lead at 12-1 on Friday while Mongolian yokozuna Asashoryu was slammed to a third defeat by countryman Ama with two days remaining at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament.

With Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko looking on from the upper-level box seats, Tochiazuma never gave the ozeki debutant a chance to launch an attack as he steamrolled ahead and shoved his opponent over the edge with a salvo of slaps to the chest in the day’s penultimate bout at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan.

Tochiazuma, who came out this basho facing demotion, moved a step closer to capturing his third career title with sekiwake Hakuho and rank-and-filers Tokutsuumi and Hokutoriki trailing one off the pace at 11-2.

Asashoryu, who lost to Hakuho a day earlier, was tossed down like a rag doll immediately after the faceoff with an overarm throw, leaving him with a 10-3 mark along with Kotooshu and slim hopes of winning his eighth straight title with after claiming all six Emperor’s Cups in 2005.

The yokozuna lost just six bouts in 2005 but has already suffered three defeats to start of the New Year.

Eleventh-ranked maegashira Hokutoriki (11-2) faced off in a rumble with Mongolian Hakuho but immediately backpedaled over the edge, slipping out of a share the lead.

UPDATE, Day 14: Tokyo native Tochiazuma remains in sole possession of the lead at 13-1, with Mongolian sekiwake Hakuho close behind at 12-2.

UPDATE, Day 15: Tochiazuma not only finished with the best record, 14-1, he also defeated mighty Asashoryu on the final day, handing the grand champion his 4th loss of this tournament. (Asashoryu lost only 6 bouts during the six tournaments of 2005.)

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