Communing with the gods: Meeting Japan's two superstars Oh and Nagashima
TOKYO - Among the many athletes I met and interviewed, there was the great Shigeo Nagashima, cleanup hitter and third baseman for the Yomiuri Giants, as well as the team’s manager for a number of years. He had hit two home runs, including a walkoff in the 10th inning, in the only NPB game Emperor Hirohito had ever attended in 1959. His nickname in the press was Golden Boy.
I met him many times in my new career as a journalist and I could attest that he had charisma to burn. He could walk into a room and everyone would stop to look, even those rare individuals who had no idea who he was. He just looked special. Tall, dark, athletic.
There an aura about him, which was something I could never say about anyone else I ever met through my career. I saw him walk into a Field Day at a Denenchofu primary school where his son was competing (I was there with a Japanese friend, an artist, who had a daughter in the same school competing in the events).
As he entered, as if by some cosmic signal, everyone turned to focus their attention on him. Clad in a leather jacket and jeans, and wearing sunglasses below his jet black crew cut, I thought at first he was a movie star, until a murmur went through the crowd the ‘cho-san’ as he was nicknamed, was there.