Tsuneo Watanabe

From BR Bullpen

Tsuneo Watanabe

Biographical Information[edit]

The Japanese equivalent of George Steinbrenner, Tsuneo Watanabe was the owner of the Yomiuri Giants from 1991 through 2004. A former leader of a left-wing student association, he was a reporter and later editor for the Yomiuri Shimbun. As Giants owner, he was known for being vocal about his opinions. He helped push free agency into Nippon Pro Baseball to strengthen the rich, fading Giants. An enemy of agents, he once criticized the Giants' manager Shigeo Nagashima for speaking to an agent at a party. His opinion on proposed changes to NPB often led to the approval or rejection of such alterations. Thankfully some of his ideas did not go through - such as merging the Central League and Pacific League or eliminating the Japan Series. In 2004 Watanabe was forced to resign after ethical violations involving bribes of approximately 2 million yen to Meiji University pitcher Yasuhiro Ichiba. The ouster did not last long as Watanabe returned in the new role of team chairman late in 2005 and played a key role in the re-hiring of manager Tatsunori Hara.

Robert Whiting describes him as a "blustering alpha male who did everything but urinate on the floor to make his mark."

Primary Source: "The Meaning of Ichiro" by Whiting