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野球 TP : *海外独立リーグの実態 〜新潟アルビレックスBC・根鈴雄次〜
投稿日時: 2007-12-20 00:00:00

 今年4月に開幕した北信越BCリーグで活躍する新潟アルビレックスBCプレーイングコーチの根鈴雄次。その野球人生はまさに波乱万丈だ。高校中退、米国へ単身野球留学、メジャーへの挑戦、挫折、そして海外の独立リーグへ……。
 過日、当サイト編集長・二宮清純が彼にインタビューを行ない、これまでの野球人生を振り返ってもらった。その一部を公開する。

二宮: 根鈴さんは独立リーグ暮らしが長いですよね。元巨人のウォーレン・クロマティが監督のジャパン・サムライベアーズに入ったのが最初ですか?
根鈴: はい。インターナショナル・リーグの3Aを2年でクビになって、ゴールデンベースボールリーグに参加しました。翌年にはメキシカンリーグのメキシコシティに移籍したんです。

二宮: メキシカンリーグもレベルは高いですよね。WBCでもメキシコチームは強かった。
根鈴: はい。ある意味、メキシカンリーグは3Aの意味合いをもっています。ただ、インチキが多いですね。コルクバットを売っている業者にも会いました。でも、みんなうまかった。アメリカの野球とはちょっと違って、いわゆる“こすい”感じでした。僕はそこで手を骨折してしまって、1年でクビになり、今度はカナダにナショナルリーグができたと聞いて入ったんです。そしたら1年も経たないうちにファイナンシャルプロブレムでリーグ自体が頓挫しちゃいました。

二宮: それはアメリカのマイナーリーグとは違うんですか?
根鈴: 違います。カナダ独自のメジャーリーグをつくろうとしたんです。つまり、メキシカンリーグと一緒ですよね。ところが、カナダはあまりにも土地が広大で、遠征するのに飛行機を使わないといけないんです。その分の費用を賄うだけの集客がなかったんです。

二宮: 東部のケベックはフランス語圏ですよね。野球ファンはいるんですか?
根鈴: 意外にも、ケベックではメチャクチャお客さんが入るんですよ。現在もカンナムリーグにケベック・キャピタルズというチームが所属してるんですけど、毎試合満員ですよ。

二宮: そうなんですか。だったら、エクスポズもモントリオールで成功できたんじゃないでしょうか。
根鈴: 僕もそう思います。やり方次第ですよね。僕がいたオタワ・リンクスという3Aのチームも設立当時はフルハウスで3万人くらい入れてたらしいんです。エクスポズもできたてのころは結構入っていたみたいなんですけど、なんかうまくやれなかったんでしょうね。

二宮: カナダは寒かったでしょう?
根鈴: 寒かったですね。僕らがカナディアンリーグでやっていたときは4、5月は雨が多すぎて試合ができなかったんです。ところが、バンクーバーとかカルガリーとか西の方はいい天気だったりして……ちょっと差が激しすぎましたね。

二宮: カナダの次はオランダですか?
根鈴: はい、昨年はオランダのリーグでやりました。

二宮: オランダの野球のレベルはどうなんでしょう?
根鈴: ヨーロッパはこれから強くなると思いますよ。特にオランダは、それこそ柔道の二の舞になると思います。

二宮: オランダ人は体が大きいから本気でやったら、ピッチャーなんて優に150キロくらいは出るでしょうね。リーグ自体のレベルはどうなんですか?
根鈴: ヨーロッパのサッカーをイメージしてもらえるとわかりやすいと思うんですけど、トップチームと下位チームとのレベルの差がすごくあるんです。42試合しかないので、優勝するにはそれこそ全勝するくらいの勢いじゃないとダメなんですよ。だから、試合のやり方が、アメリカの独立リーグとかマイナーのような大味じゃなくて、日本の社会人のようなトーナメント方式みたいな感じですよね。もう、初回からどんどん送って、先にリードを奪う、というような細かい野球をやるんです。要は取りこぼしができないんですよ。

二宮: シーズンはどのくらいの期間なんですか?
根鈴: 4月初旬から10月くらいまで。サッカーシーズンとぶつからないようにしているんです。

二宮: 観客は入るんですか?
根鈴: いえ、観客は入らないですね。オーナーになっている企業がコニカミノルタやヨーロッパの人材派遣会社とか、大手ばかり。つまり、オーナーたちの道楽という感じなんです。
 でも、レベルは低くはないですよ。同じチームにオリンピックに3回も出ている選手がいたんです。彼はメジャーに行ったわけでもなく、オランダでずっと野球をやっていた選手です。日本相手にもやっているし、シドニーオリンピックの予選リーグでオランダがキューバに勝った試合にもキャッチャーとして出場していました。だから、野球のノウハウはすごくあります。彼がもし国籍が日本やアメリカだったら、確実にメジャーに呼ばれていますね。オランダリーグにはそれくらい高い身体能力の選手もいるんです。

二宮: 平均身長が世界で一番高いと言われる国ですから、体格はいいでしょうね。
根鈴: すごいですよ。それこそ、みんなK−1みたいなもんですよ。レミー・ボンヤスキーのような黒人だったら、どれだけ飛ぶのかって感じです(笑)。

根鈴雄次(ねれい・ゆうじ)プロフィール>:新潟アルビレックスBCプレーイングコーチ
1973年8月9日、神奈川県出身。日大藤沢高を中退し、米国へ単身留学する。その後、新宿山吹高に再入学。23歳で法政大に進学し、東京六大学野球で活躍した。00年春、エクスポズ(現ナショナルズ)傘下のマイナーチームに入団。一時は3Aまで上り詰めるも、メジャー昇格には至らなかった。その後、米国、カナダ、オランダなどの独立リーグを経て、2007年より新潟アルビレックスBCのプレーイングコーチに就任した。


<12月5日号の『ビッグコミックオリジナル』(小学館)二宮清純コラム「バイプレーヤー」にて、根鈴選手のインタビューが掲載されています。こちらもどうぞお楽しみに。>


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