As anyone who follows the baseball scene in Japan knows there has been some controversy regarding the contract status of Bobby V. Last year, it was originally reported that 2008 was to be Bobby’s last year with the team. All sorts of rumors were flying — US sports media reported that Bobby was rumored to be interested in the vacant Mariners job, and other reports suggested that Lotte ownership was fed up with the control that Bobby has over the organization. I was at the final game vs Rakuten last year. Bobby spoke of his love for the fans, the team, and the opportunities he’s had in Japan. He said that if the Marines wanted him, he’d be back.
Most of us Marines fans wondered, how did things get to this? Lotte hadn’t won a title since 1974 when Bobby took over for the second time in 2004. In 2005 the Marines won it all – the Nippon Series, the new Asia series, and the hearts of thousands of fans in Chiba and beyond. A street in Makuhari Baytown was named in Bobby’s honor. Attendance for the next seasons soared. The experience at the ballpark became something quite unique in Japan.
An agreement was singed after last year for Bobby to come back for 2009. Unusually, it stipulated he would come back only for 2009. Since then, fans have wondered “Why?”, and more importantly, “How can we keep him for more years?”
Enter the Bobby 2010 campaign. On game days outside Chiba Marine stadium fans have volunteered to get signatures on a petition to keep Bobby as manager for 2010.
An article I read the other week (maybe on the Yomiuri online?) talked about the campaign and the goals of the organizers. The original goals were something on the order of 100,000 signatures, but now they are hoping for 200, 300,000 signatures — maybe more.
Of course i’ve signed the petition, as has John. Bobby adds so much to not only the Marines organization, the team, and the fans, but really he’s a great ambassador for Japanese baseball in general. I’ve read countless articles over the years with Bobby quoted on the state of Japanese baseball, or a player making the transition to MLB, or the WBC, or other issues. It’s hard to imagine the Marines without him as manager, so I really hope the campaign succeeds!