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SPORTS COMMUNICATIONS - 甲子園の光と影<前編>

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投稿日時: 2013-07-21 10:00:00

 今年の夏の甲子園は8月5日に開幕するが、長年、炎天下での連戦による選手の酷使が問題視されている。今春のセンバツでは準優勝した済美(愛媛)の2年生エースの安楽智大投手が、決勝までの5試合合計で772球をも投げ、投球過多ではないかとの論議を呼んだ。日本高校野球連盟は、1993年の夏から球児の肩肘検査を導入し、今大会からは準々決勝後の休養日を設ける措置を講じている。しかし、連投や球数に対する規定はなく、日程に関しても天候次第で休養日はなくなる。将来ある球児たちの負担を軽減する上で、根本的な解決策とは言い難い。14年前に“甲子園の弊害”を指摘した原稿で、この問題を再考しよう。

<この原稿は1999年の『Do or Die――スポーツは誰のもの!? 21世紀への提言集』(KSS出版)に掲載されたものです>

「いつか監督を殺してやる。毎日、そればっかり考えていました。1日として監督を恨まない日はなかった。高校野球の思い出といっても辛いものばかり……。残念なことに3年間の高校生活で楽しいと思ったことは一度もなかったですね」

 大学に入って、ピッチャーから野手に転向した大野倫(当時・九州共立大2年)は、精悍な浅黒いマスクをくもらせ、声を落として語り始めた。
 1991年、大野は沖縄水産のエースとして夏の甲子園に出場、4連戦を含む全6試合に完投し、773球をたった一人で投げてチームを準優勝に導いた。悲劇が酷使の右腕を襲ったのは、決勝の対大阪桐蔭戦。試合途中で右ヒジが完全に曲がってしまい、正常な状態で腕が振れなくなってしまったのだ。閉会式では右腕をくの字に折ったまま行進せざるをえなかった。スタンドからそのシーンを目のあたりにした母・良江さんは「あの子のヒジが……」と言ったきり顔を伏せ、絶句したという。

 大野が述懐する。
「決勝戦はヒジがパンクして、キャッチボールすら満足にできない状態。痛みも限度を超えると、頭がボォーッとして自分で何をやっているのか分からなくなってくるんです。試合中、一度も勝てる気はしなかった。だから負けても少しも悔しくなかった。むしろホッとしたというのが実感でした」

 大野が右ヒジに痛みを覚えたのは、県予選が始まる前の5月だった。熊本県の招待試合で鎮西、熊本工という強豪校相手に2連投、1日で18イニングをひとりで投げ切った。右ヒジの痛みは日を追って激しくなり、それが原因で頭痛を併発、満身創痍のまま県予選を迎える。ヒジをかばって変化球主体のピッチングをすると、チームメイトから「オマエのせいで甲子園行けんかったら、一生恨んでやるからな」と罵声を浴びせられた。大野にとって仲間の罵声は、監督の叱声にも増してショックだった。合宿所のトイレで、人知れず涙をこぼす日々が続いた。

 奮闘の甲斐あって甲子園出場。しかし、右ヒジは既にまっすぐには伸びない状態になっていた。一球投げるたびに、激痛が全身を貫いた。歯を磨くのも左手、顔を洗うのも左手、食事くらいはと右手ではしを持つと、痛みのあまり、幼児のようにはし使いがぎこちなくなり、ご飯粒が、はしのすき間から、ぽろぽろとこぼれ落ちた。

 決勝戦の朝は、自分の激痛のうめき声で目を覚ました。窓の外を見ると、雨が降っていた。「このまま降り続いてくれ」。大野は悲痛な面持ちで、空に願いをかけた。しかし、無情にも宿舎を出る頃、雨は上がっていた。

 栽弘義監督は報道陣を前に、こう気炎を上げた。
「大野には死ぬつもりでやってもらいます。かわいそうだが、野球生活が終わるつもりで。やる時にはやらにゃあ……」
 沖縄に優勝旗がこんうちは、戦後は終わらん――。ことあるごとにそう言い続けてきた栽にとって、甲子園での“殉死”は、至上の美学だったに違いない。

 しかし、それは後で詳しく述べるが「教育」に名を借りた全体主義的色彩の濃い「暴力」以外の何物でもない。さらに言えば、若者の犠牲の上に成り立つ勝利には幾分の尊厳もない。もちろん、4連投などという常軌を逸した過酷なスケジュールを強いる主催の朝日新聞、高野連の罪も厳しく問われるべきであろう。

 無念さを押し殺すような口ぶりで大野は言った。
「雨で1日休みがあいたからといって、勝てたかどうかはわかりません。しかし、あれよりは(16被安打で13失点)まともなピッチングできたと思う。せめて腕が上がる状態で、決勝戦を戦いたかった」

 その年の秋、大野は沖縄の病院で右ヒジの手術を受けた。右ヒジの剥離骨折だった。驚くことに大野は骨折したままの状態で773球を投げ抜いたことになる。
「春の時点で実は疲労骨折していた。そこへもってきて甲子園で無理をしたため、骨折がヒジの関節の中に入り、剥離骨折を引き起こしてしまった。もし、手術を受けなかったら、野球は言うに及ばず、日常生活も満足に営めなくなっていたでしょう。残念ながらピッチャー生命は断念せざるを得ない状態でした。それにしても、甲子園とは若い人の体を蝕むためにあるものなのでしょうか……」(沖縄県立南部病院整形外科・上江洲邦弘医師)

 大野の右ヒジには今もくっきりと手術の傷跡が残っている。「高校野球時代のクセで、今も頭は左手で洗ってしまうんです。そのたびに、辛かったことや苦しかったことが頭に浮かんでくるんです。後遺症なんでしょうねぇ」。右ヒジの傷跡は、同時に心に刻まれた傷跡でもある。

(中編へつづく)


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