The late Akihiro “Ike” Ikuhara was inducted into Japan’s Baseball Hall of Fame. Ceremonies were held during the Japanese All-Star game in Tokyo on Friday, July 11.Ike was the father to our good friend Dr. Mutsuo “Moots” Ikuhara. Moots is probably one of the few doctors (or humans) who can eat a Tommy burger and a Jockos large spencer steak — all in the same day. Uh, yes…I joined him in this grub-fest.
Former Dodger President Peter O’Malley was quoted in the Dodger press release:
“Ike was the true ambassador. He had the trust and confidence of everyone and I really enjoyed working with him. He is most worthy of this recognition and I am very happy for Ike and his family.”
While at Waseda University in Tokyo, Ike played catcher on the university team. Upon graduating in 1959, he played in the Japan industrial league for two years, then managed Tokyo’s Asia University team from 1961 to 1965, advancing his team from third to first in its division.
In 1965 Ike met Sotaro Suzuki, an advisor to the Yomiuri Giants and considered Japan’s #1 authority on American baseball. Suzuki, moved by Ike’s passion to study baseball in America, wrote a letter of introduction to Dodger owner Walter O’Malley.
Ike intended to return to Japan — but his two year apprenticeship turned into a 27 year Dodger career.
Sadly, in October 1992 Ike lost his battle with cancer. He was 55 years old.
The Asahi Shimbun’s English edition published a moving tribute to Ike. Read more.