Trend in Japan Web Japan
Business and Economy Lifestyle Science and Technology Fashion Arts and Entertainment Sports People
"Bobby Magic" Inspires Team to Japan Series Win (December 19, 2005)

Bobby Valentine acknowledges the fans' applause. (jiji)
This season, American manager Bobby Valentine led the Chiba Lotte Marines to their first Japan Series baseball title in 31 years. The team finished the regular season in second place in the Pacific League but toppled rival Fukuoka Softbank Hawks in the playoffs and went on to complete a four-game sweep of the Hanshin Tigers in the Japan Series. The team then followed up this performance with a victory in the Asia Series. Valentine's management style and skillful use of players was dubbed "Bobby Magic." His detailed attention to his players and thoughtfulness toward the team's fans has changed the identity of the team and fans alike.

The Secret of His Success
Bobby Valentine was by no means a star as a Major League player. He played for five teams during his injury-plagued career, including the Los Angeles Dodgers, Anaheim Angels, and San Diego Padres. Not until he became a manager did he gain a measure of fame. After a successful stint as manager of the Texas Rangers beginning in 1985, he was first appointed manager of the Lotte Marines in 1995. Although he guided the ball club, which had languished for the previous nine years near the bottom of the league, to a second-place finish, he was dismissed after just one season in a dispute with the front office. Afterward, he took the helm as manager of the New York Mets, whom he led to an appearance in the 2000 World Series. He rejoined the Lotte Marines in 2004 and guided the team to a fourth-place finish before winning the pennant in 2005.

In the past 20 years, the only seasons in which the Lotte Marines have had a winning record have been the three when they were managed by Valentine, a statistic indicative of his leadership prowess. A number of explanations could be given for his success: trust in his players and allowing them a large amount of freedom; lack of anger at failures, instead viewing them as a step to the next success; carefully thought out strategy based on data compiled by a thorough scouting of teams; assigning players to multiple positions and instilling in them a competitive instinct; and learning Japanese so that he can actively communicate with his players. This style of management is a novelty in Japanese baseball.

Management Magic
Valentine's approach is popularly referred to as "Bobby Magic," a phrase that encapsulates his intimate knowledge of baseball and resourceful man-management skills. Over his two years as manager, he has developed and skillfully utilized a core of young talent that includes Watanabe Shunsuke, Omura Saburo, Imae Toshiaki, and Nishioka Tsuyoshi. Valentine remains modest, denying there is any "magic" involved and praising his players for competing hard.

Valentine's attention has even extended to the team's fans. He mingles with them and signs autographs. Inspired by Valentine's desire to make the game enjoyable for fans even after a game is over, the Marines came up with the unique idea of having the team's player of the game make a live appearance at the front entrance of the ballpark. Even the cheering style of Lotte's fans has taken on a Major League flavor due to Valentine's influence. Fans now cheer by clapping and yelling instead of banging plastic megaphones. They also applaud good plays by their opponents. And they are well-mannered in disposing of all of their garbage.

At the season's end, Valentine received the Shoriki Matsutaro award for the way in which he has resurrected a previously weak team and built up its popularity. This was the first time the award has been given to a member of the Lotte organization or to a foreigner. The ball club is also considering retiring his number (2), which would be another team first.

 Page Top

Copyright (c) 2005 Web Japan. Edited by Japan Echo Inc. based on domestic Japanese news sources. Articles presented here are offered for reference purposes and do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Japanese Government.

Related articles
(December 6, 2005)
Drop Us a Line
Your Name

What did you think of this article?

It was interesting.
It was boring.

Send this article to a friend

Go TopTrends in Japan Home

Go BackSports Home