Yesterday I was honored at the 2009 Jokun Recognition Luncheon that was held by the Japanese Chamber of Commerce Foundation. I was on the dais with Acey Kohrogi, our Director of Asian Operations, as well as the other Jokun award winners.
What is the Jokun award? Well you might remember that last December I was awarded with the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette by the Emperor of Japan. That is the Jokun, and it was a pleasure and honor to be amongst such distinguished guests.
The Dodgers have enjoyed a long-standing relationship with Japan and a rich history of friendship that has helped the development of Japanese baseball.
– Three postseason tours of Japan by Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers teams following the 1956, 1966 and 1993 seasons led to return visits by the Tokyo Giants during Spring Training in Vero Beach on five occasions (1961, 67, 71, 75 and 80)
-After the 1956 Japan tour, the Dodgers invited Shigeru Mizuhara, manager of the Yomiuri Giants, along with pitcher Sho Horiuchi and catcher Shigeru Fujio to train in Vero Beach with the Dodgers in 1957
-In 1962, Japanese baseball coach Kaoru Betto traveled the entire season with the Dodgers, studying the Dodger way of training
-Dodger minor league manager Pete Reiser visited Japan in the fall of 1963 to coach the Tokoy Flyers
-In 1964 and ’65, the Dodgers conducted coaching clinics in Japan. Al Campanis visited Kawasaki to conduct the 1964 clinic for the Tokyo Whalers and Kenny Myers and myself conducted the 1965 clinic in Tokyo and Miyazaki for the Tokyo Giants
-In 1966, the Dodgers received a 10-foot tall, two-ton stone lanternas a gift from Japanese Hall of Famer Sotaro Suzuki as a token of friendship between the Dodgers and Japan
-In 1979, I managed the National League All-Star Team in a seven-game series in Japan.
I hosted a week-long baseball clinic in Japan with Senichi Hoshino in 1981
-After the 1993 season, the Dodgers played five exhibition games in Asia as part of the Friendship Series tour, three in Taipei, Taiwan and two in the Fukuoka Dome in Fukuoka, Japan
-In 2000, I signed a Friendship Agreement on behalf of the Dodgers with the Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes and visited the team more than 15 times in three years to help with baseball instruction and scouting
-In June 2005, I was asked by President George W. Bush to serve as a delegate to the U.S. National Day at the World Exposition in Aichi, Japan, one of more than 15 visits he has made to Japan
-In June 2007, Japanese Ambassador Ryozo Kato, Consul General Kazuo Kodama and Executive Director of the Japan America Society Doug Erber met with Dodger owners Frank and Jamie McCourt at Dodger Stadium
-The Waseda University baseball team from Tokyo visited Dodgertown for two weeks in 1994, and the Dodgers continue their working relationship with the school. Each year, the Dodgers host interns from Waseda University for several weeks and teach them about American culture and baseball.