[FOUNTAIN]The importance of defining a calling in lifeShigeo Nagashima, 68, is a living legend in Japanese baseball. Avid Korean baseball fans also know him. From 1958 to 1974, he was the superstar of the Yomiuri Giants. After he retired as a player, he became the head coach and made the Giants one of the most respected teams in Japan. He has been named the team’s honorary manager for life and is now leading the national baseball team to the Athens Olympics.
In his 17 years as a player, he was a five-time batting champion, five-time Most Valuable Player and two-time home run king. In addition to those impressive records, he was known for his eye for decisive moments. Many of his home runs came in the ninth inning. He was the kind of man who could stage a dramatic ending.
During his heyday, pitchers did their best to avoid a direct confrontation with him by walking him intentionally. He would sometimes take his turn without his bat and the pitcher would walk him on four straight balls.
Mr. Nagashima is a man of professionalism. He not only displayed an amazing focus on the game but also paid impressive attention to the fans. His definition of baseball is a sport that captivates the audience.
It was his motto that the players had to serve the “customers” who paid to see the game with the best entertainment possible. He studied how he could get the fans’ attention. For example, he would always wear a helmet a size bigger so that when he swung the bat, the helmet would fly away. The fans loved the scene. Mr. Nagashima was able to become a superstar because he was talented at entertaining the fans.
His professionalism is apparent in everyday life. When asked about his occupation, he would simply say, “Shigeo Nagashima.” Even on legal documents, he would write his name as his occupation. As the national hero of Japan, he proudly considers superstardom his career.
Not everyone can define his career by his name. True professionalism comes from never-ending effort and self-control. A career is not defined solely by what you do, where you work or how much you are paid. For Mr. Nagashima, his career is the process of creating his life. “Vocation” also means calling or duty. Let’s remember the meaning of career in the era of youth unemployment.
by Nahm Yoon-ho
The writer is a deputy city news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.