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March 17, 2009

Ryozo Kato

Tommy Lasorda


TOMMY LASORDA: On December 2nd, I received a great award from Japan. I received the Emperor's Award, which is the highest honor that anybody gets. And I want to thank -- through you, I want to thank the Emperor and everybody in Japan for this wonderful, wonderful gift that I received. This is the Award of the Rising Sun. It's the Emperor's Award, and I want to thank the Emperor, I want to thank Japan for this award.
I've received many, many awards, but this, to me, is the best one I've ever received. It represents the entire country of Japan. And I'm completely honored and I want to tell all of you to tell the people of Japan, I am very proud to receive this award.
COMMISSIONER RYOZO KATO: (Speaking in Japanese.)
I just told the press people that you richly deserve this award, because you are so -- you have made a great contribution to Japanese baseball (indiscernible).
COMMISSIONER RYOZO KATO: Japan's people very grateful to what you have done for baseball, and also the relations between United States and Japan.
TOMMY LASORDA: Well, you have the opportunity, and I want you to say to Nomo, I love him very much. I miss him very much, and I'm so happy to see Sadaharu Oh. In 1965, when I went to Japan to work with the Tokyo Giants, I spent three weeks at the spring training camp in Miyazaki, and they turned around and won ten championships in a row. So I was proud and privileged to be able to work with Sadaharu Oh, Nagashima, Hayashi, Moda, Shibata, Kanada, Ohashi, Funada, Funamachi, all of them. And it gave me great pleasure to be able to work with the Tokyo Giants.
About four years ago, I went over to help the Kintetsu Buffalos, and they got into the championship series. So Japan has really come up in baseball since I first went there. I'm proud to see they're playing such good baseball.
But I always said this: I hope before I die -- I'm 82 years old. Before I die, I want to see a real World Series, the winner of Japan and the winner of the United States. If they play, that will really be called a "World Series." And I hope and pray that that happens.
I think the Japanese players have shown their ability to play and compete in major leagues. When you see Ichiro and all of those guys, Eguchi and all of 'em, they have done well, and they can play with anybody.
So maybe before I die, I'll see a real World Series between Japan and the United States.
Tell the Commissioner he does a great job over there in Japan, and I love comin' over. I enjoy it very much. We have a great relationship with the Japanese people, and Japanese baseball, Mr. O'Malley, and Mr. -- what's his name? Together they build a bridge from Los Angeles to Tokyo, and Mr. O'Malley played a part in getting the relationship built with Japan.
I can't think of the name that was with Mr. Shoriki. I want to thank Mr. Shoriki and everybody for the opportunity of coming over there. I love baseball over there. Their baseball players have gotten so much better, and I hope and pray that before I get up there (indicating), there will be a World Series.
And I want to thank the Commissioner for his job, and I respect what he does for baseball in Japan.
COMMISSIONER RYOZO KATO: Thank you very much.
TOMMY LASORDA: Thank all of you, the press. Make sure you understand the reason why I wanted to -- I wanted you to see this. I am so proud of this, and I want you to know that. I want you to tell everybody over there how proud I am of receiving this award. (Speaking in Japanese.)

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