The commissioner of Nippon Professional Baseball said Sept. 19 that he will step down to take responsibility for the livened baseball that was used this season without the players’ knowledge.
Ryozo Kato, 72, announced his resignation at a meeting in Tokyo with the owners of the 12 NPB teams. He said he wanted to quit as commissioner by the end of the regular season, according to sources.
Kunio Shimoda, secretary-general of NPB, admitted in June that the body had instructed a manufacturer to modify the official ball to give it more life this season. The secrecy infuriated ballplayers and baseball fans.
Kato, however, denied any knowledge of the juicing of the ball.
“I knew nothing about the matter,” Kato said at a news conference in June. “It is not a scandal.”
But Motohiro Shima, chairman of the Japan Professional Baseball Players Association, said the labor union has lost faith in Kato, a former Japanese ambassador to the United States.
“I cannot trust him because he is trying to evade responsibility by just saying ‘I didn’t know,’ although the alteration of the ball is a really important matter,” Shima, a catcher with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, said in July.
The JPBPA voted no-confidence against Kato at a special meeting that month.
Kato became NPB commissioner in July 2008. His term was scheduled to end in June next year.
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