Fukushima-born composer Koseki inducted into Baseball Hall of Fame

Photo: Yuji Koseki

Yuji Koseki, the late composer hailing from Fukushima city, has been inducted into Japan's Baseball Hall of Fame for writing pieces of music well known among professional and amateur baseball circles. Koseki was elected from the special honors category, according to an announcement on Jan. 13 by the Tokyo-based Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. He will join the ranks of all-time Hall of Famers and a plaque will be produced and housed at the museum. The special honors category covers non-professional players and umpires as well as people involved in professional and amateur baseball who have made conspicuous contributions to the development of the sport. They include those who have made contributions to baseball's management or its organizations in some form. One of Koseki's well-known works is "Eikan wa Kimi ni Kagayaku (The Glory Shines on You)," a theme song for the national high school baseball championship held annually in the summer at Koshien Stadium. He also made several "cheer songs" for baseball teams that have been sung for decades in the professional and collegiate leagues. Among them are "Toukon Komete (With the Fighting Spirit)" for the Yomiuri Giants, "Rokko Oroshi (The Wind Blowing Down from Mt. Rokko)" for the Hanshin Tigers, "Konpeki no Sora (Deep Blue Sky)" for Waseda University and "Ware zo Hasha (We Are the Champions)" for Keio University. Koseki died at the age of 80 in 1989. In 2020, public broadcaster NHK aired a serial morning TV drama called "Yell," based on his life and that of his wife Kinko. In the selection process for this year's Hall of Fame induction, the list of candidates for the special honors award was narrowed down last year, and Koseki was elected through a vote by the 13 members of the special honors committee earlier this month. They are current and former senior officials of the pro leagues, senior officials of amateur baseball organizations and intellectuals associated with the sport. Koseki won 10 votes to meet the conditions for eligibility that requires at least 75%, or 10, of the ballots for induction. He had been nominated for four successive years. Koseki was first put on the candidate list on the advice of Keio professor emeritus Masaru Ikei, a Yokohama resident well versed in baseball and songs cheering up the sport. In 2018, a group of promoters for Koseki's induction bid was organized by people at the Fukushima city hall, the Fukushima Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the alumni association of Fukushima Shogyo (commercial) High School, his alma mater, and Fukushima-Minpo Co., publisher of the namesake local daily. Volunteers at baseball-related organizations, alumni bodies of universities and media entities also joined them to launch a group for "realizing Mr. Yuji Koseki's Baseball Hall of Fame induction." They have since submitted a written recommendation to the museum and provided support in various other forms. Koseki is the second Fukushima Prefecture native to become a Baseball Hall of Famer and the first since former Nippon Professional Baseball Commissioner Hiromori Kawashima, who was elected from the special honors category in 2006. Hailing from Aizuwakamatsu city, Kawashima also served as head of the Tokyo-Fukushima Kenjinkai (association of Fukushima Prefecture natives in Tokyo) and the Aizu-kai society before passing away in 2012. (Translated by Kyodo News)