The Black Mist Scandal (Japanese baseball)

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In Japan, the Black Mist Scandal (黒い霧事件 kuroi kiri jiken?) refers to a series of game fixing scandals in the professional leagues 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).

Timeline[edit]

  • October 7, 1969: The Nishitetsu front office discovers pitcher 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, and the story is reported in Japanese news papers the next day.
  • November 28, 1969: The committee of commissioners presiding over the league at the time votes to ban Nagayasu from the league for life, the first time any player had been banned from baseball.
  • April 1, 1970: In an exclusive tape-recorded interview with the Shūkan Post newspaper (broadcast on a Fuji Television news program), Nagayasu reveals that other players on his former team were also involved in game fixing. The league summons seven players to testify on their involvement: pitchers Nagayasu, Masaaki Ikenaga, Yorinobu Yoda, and Akio Masada; catcher Kimiyasu Murakami; and infielders Kazuhide Funada and Mitsuo Motoi.
  • April 22: An auto racer under investigation for rule violations in a race reveals that baseball players are involved in a scheme to fix the results of races. Three are arrested under suspicion of participating in the scheme: Chunichi Dragons pitcher Tsutomu Tanaka, Taiyō Whales pitcher Isao Takayama, and yakuza member Hirotaka Fujinawa.
  • May 6: Kentarō Ogawa, star pitcher for the Dragons, is 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: A report reveals that Kintetsu Buffaloes front-office official Akira Yamazaki was coerced into throwing games as a player in the 1967 season.
  • May 19: Hanshin Tigers infielder Takao Katsuragi is arrested in the auto-race scandal.
  • May 25: The commissioner committee issues the following punishments to Nishitetsu players:
    • Ikenaga, Yoda, Masuda: Banned for life (Yoda and Masuda admitted to involvement; Ikenaga claimed to be uninvolved, but had not returned the 1 million yen he had received as an invitation to do so.)
    • Murakami and Funada: Suspended until the end of the 1970 season
    • Motoi: Severe warning
  • June 3: Ogawa is banned from baseball for life.
  • June 15: Yamazaki is banned from baseball for life.
  • June 17: Tōkyō Yakult Swallows catcher Toshio Katō is arrested by police for driving without a license. He is benched by the team indefinitely, then is released at the end of the year, joining Toei in 1971.
  • June 18: Katsuragi is suspended by the commissioner committee for three months.
  • July 1: Kintetsu outfielder Masahiro Doi is prosecuted for illegal gambling. He is later suspended by the league for a month.
  • July 30: Moriyasu is banned from baseball for life. Tanaka receives a warning.
  • September 8: Yakult infielder Takeshi Kuwata is 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.
  • November 30: Hanshin pitcher Yutaka Enatsu receives a stern warning from the Central League president due to "involvement with persons in baseball gambling".
  • January 11, 1971: Nankai Hawks pitcher Kiyohiro Miura receives a 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 are barred from playing in the premiere league for their involvement with the Yakuza.
  • February 15: Lotte Orions pitcher Fumio Narita is suspended for a month for his involvement with bookmakers.

Players banned for life[edit]

Ikenaga's reinstatement[edit]

Ikenaga's banning was fiercely contested by both Nishitetsu's front office and Ikenaga's own family. His case was not taken up by baseball until March 2005, when the commissioner and 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.

References[edit]