[FOUNTAIN]A baseball team and economic gains

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[FOUNTAIN]A baseball team and economic gains

Koshien Stadium is the cradle of Japanese baseball.
Only 1,500 players from 49 schools that have passed the regional preliminary matches are qualified for the final rounds. The teams go through a tough competition with over 100 schools trying out for one position. Even the teams that have lost bring back some of the Koshien Stadium dirt in their pockets as a tradition. The newspapers that deal lightly with the Koshien Stadium matches have to be prepared for a drop in their subscription rate.
Koshien Stadium is the home stadium of the Hanshin Tigers. It is located between Osaka and Kobe. In the Konami Baseball Series in Japan, the Hanshin Tigers are the best team of all. But they have ranked among the lowest 10 times in the Central League during the 17 baseball seasons since 1986. There is something unique about this forever last-place team. For the last 70 years, the Hanshin Tigers have won the Central League only three times.
The Japanese economy has prospered during these periods. In 1962, when the team won the league title for the first time, the Japanese economy experienced 12 percent annual economic growth. Japan stepped up as the world’s second largest economy. The same thing happened when it won the league title in 1985. Japan experienced a “Heisei” boom for five years, buying up American land and buildings. In 2003, the Hanshin Tigers won the Central League for the third time. The team’s power became noticeable after Senichi Hoshino became its senior director.
“Thanks to the Hanshin Tigers again,” was the comment from Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi after he received the news that the economy was getting better. Sumitomo Bank forecast, “If history repeats itself, 1.5 percent stable economic growth can be expected until the year 2010.”
Last week, senior director Hoshino refused the director position of the Yomiuri Giants worth 10 billion won ($9.7 million) in annual compensation. We can see his unyielding spirit to defeat the Yomiuri Giants as his lifetime goal after it refused to draft him when he was a player.
People say economics is a matter of psychology. The Japanese economy that can be symbolized by the Koshien Stadium, Hanshin Tigers and director Hoshino is expanding rapidly. When the economies of Osaka and Kobe, cities that lag behind Tokyo, start to improve, then all of Japan will start to recover. The prescription for the Korean economy suffering from inertia could also be dreams and a restoration of pride. I envy the Japanese mind game where even the underwear company Wacol comes up with underwear that wishes for the victory of the Hanshin Tigers.


by Lee Chul-ho

The writer is a JoongAng Ilbo editorial writer.
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