Legendary Baseball Manager Junji Nakamura Reflects on His Record-Breaking Career

Interview with Former PL Gakuen Baseball Club Manager Junji Nakamura

Former PL Gakuen baseball club manager Junji Nakamura reflects on his time leading the team and the impact it had on both the players and himself. With 18 years at the helm, Nakamura participated in the prestigious Koshien tournament 16 times, achieving an impressive record of 6 wins and 2 second-place finishes. His winning percentage stands at a remarkable .853, making him an icon in the world of high school baseball.

Nakamura recalls the unique atmosphere surrounding the PL Gakuen team, with players donning uniforms proudly emblazoned with “PL GAKUEN” across their chests. Despite their dynamic appearance, the players would take a moment during games to quietly touch the amulets hanging around their necks and offer a brief prayer. Nakamura also fondly remembers the school song that resonated through the stadium, as well as the strong sense of character that shaped the team’s identity.

However, Nakamura’s accomplishments extend beyond the field of play. Under his guidance, a staggering 39 students have gone on to pursue professional baseball careers after graduation. This success can be attributed to Nakamura’s commitment to a holistic approach to education through sports, a philosophy he referred to as the “immediate humanitarian ballpark.” This approach emphasized the importance of human development and provided progressive training methods that are still applicable today.

Reflecting on his coaching methods, Nakamura reveals that the key to the team’s success lay in striking a balance between rigorous training and individual growth. Rather than subject his players to grueling workouts, Nakamura maintained a three-hour practice schedule each day, ending before dark to minimize fatigue. This allowed the players to maintain their energy for additional individual training sessions. The team’s practice sessions were also unique in that they incorporated music chosen by the players themselves, creating an atmosphere of enjoyment and camaraderie.

Nakamura’s dedication to nurturing young talent was evident in his approach to first-year students. Recognizing that their bodies were not yet fully developed, he focused on basic practice drills during their initial month at PL Gakuen. However, as the academic year progressed, these first-year students joined their older counterparts for regular practice sessions, providing valuable learning opportunities for both groups. The interplay between upperclassmen and underclassmen fostered a supportive and stimulating environment, allowing each player to grow and improve.

In addition to their on-field training, the team also placed a strong emphasis on mentorship. Nakamura encouraged the older players to prioritize helping their younger counterparts during individual indoor practice sessions. By teaching and guiding the younger players, the older students not only imparted their knowledge but also reinforced their own understanding of the game.

Junji Nakamura’s time as manager of the PL Gakuen baseball club left an indelible mark on both the players and the school as a whole. His unwavering commitment to holistic development, combined with his unique coaching methods, produced a legacy that is unlikely to be surpassed. The PL Gakuen baseball club stands as a testament to the enduring power of a progressive and compassionate approach to sports education.

Part 2 of an interview with former PL Gakuen baseball club manager Junji Nakamura (3 episodes in total)

“PL GAKUEN” on the chest of the uniform. Against the dynamic colors of the team, I remember the players who quietly put their hands on the amulets hanging from their necks and prayed while playing. I miss the school song that was played many times and the human character that greatly influenced the stand of the Alps.

In the spring of 1981, Junji Nakamura took charge of the Koshien for the first time as manager, and retired in the spring of 1998. During his 18 years on the job, he has participated in the Koshien 16 times in the spring and summer, including 6 wins and 2 second. With a total of 58 wins (10 losses), the winning percentage is a staggering .853.

It is hard to imagine that there will ever be a leader who surpasses this amazing number, and it can be said that it is a truly immortal record. As many as 39 students have gone on to become professionals after graduation.

The guiding pillar is “immediate humanitarian ballpark”. Human education through baseball was the most important, and in the era when the Spartan style was at its height, it provided progressive guidance that is relevant to the present day, such as recommending short intense training and individual training.

Although it is only part of it, I asked him to mention again the teaching theory at that time and present it here.

Junji Nakamura when he was the director of the PL Academy. Photo courtesy of Junji Nakamura See the photos associated with this article

● Why Kazuhiro Kiyohara chose PL because he could practice from the first grade

Junji NakamuraAt that time, it was natural to practice every day without rest days. However, the whole practice was around 3 hours and finished around 18:00 during the week. If you finish it while it’s bright, you’ll feel less tired. If you finish with energy, you can focus on individual practice afterwards.

I have never had him do hard workouts for a long time, and the menu is orthodox and nothing special. The ball park would play music chosen by the players, and few schools would have been like that. I used to think these guys liked this kind of song.

First year students have not developed their bodies yet, so for the first month after going to school, they repeat a basic practice in a different location. In May, I did the same practice with the older students, although the amount was small.

At that time, it was common for first year members of the club not to have practice because there were so many members everywhere He came to PL after knowing he would be able to take part in practice immediately. By practicing together from an early stage, underclassmen can learn by watching upperclassmen play, and upperclassmen can also receive good stimulation from underclassmen.

In individual indoor practice, older students had priority, but older students said, “It doesn’t matter how many balls you hit, but let the younger students who help you practice hit 10 pitches, and teach them,” he said. Because when you teach, you teach yourself.

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