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Sports Management Class at Waseda University A Tribute to Akihiro "Ike" Ikuhara

In 2003, to honor his Dodger Assistant and longtime friend Akihiro “Ike” Ikuhara, Peter O’Malley established, developed, and sponsored a sports management class at prestigious Waseda University, Tokyo. A series of lectures in the School of Sports Sciences with an all-star lineup followed through 2009. Ikuhara, born in Kawara, Japan, had played baseball at and graduated from Waseda in 1959.

“After Ike passed away in 1992, I wanted to do something to honor him because of the significant contribution he made in the world of international baseball,” said O’Malley, president, Los Angeles Dodgers, 1970-1998. “When he attended Waseda University there was no department emphasizing and encouraging a career in sports management, yet he succeeded with the Dodgers as a key executive.”

Waseda University Head Baseball Coach Renzo Ishii, who coached Ikuhara in the late 1950s and was a longtime friend of his and O’Malley, was of assistance in connecting O’Malley with Waseda University President Katsuhiko Shirai and the new School of Sports Sciences Dean, Katsuo Yamazaki in establishing the class. Waseda.jp/top/en/news/73334, February 19, 2020 In 2020, Ishii, who helped develop baseball and international goodwill, was posthumously inducted into the Japan Baseball Hall of Fame. 

“When it was decided that Waseda would establish a degree in sports management in 2003, it occurred to me that if I could help arrange for speakers to talk to students about their own careers it would be worthwhile,” said O’Malley. “Consequently on May 16, 2003 we established the Akihiro “Ike” Ikuhara and Peter O’Malley Memorial Sports Management Class and I agreed to be the first speaker. The lecture series had 12 speakers from 2003 to 2009 and I flew to Japan to attend 11 of the 12. The lectures were appreciated by the students and I hope what they heard made an impact on their future career. Working with the Waseda University president, deans and professors on this project was very enjoyable for me.”

(L-R): Waseda University, Dean, School of Sports Science, Katsuo Yamazaki; Peter O’Malley. On May 16, 2003, O’Malley is the guest speaker for the 2003 Akihiro “Ike” Ikuhara and Peter O’Malley Memorial Sports Management Class at Waseda University in Tokyo. A plaque commemorating Ikuhara is permanently placed at Waseda University, Tokyo, his alma mater. O’Malley held a series of 12 classes from 2003-2009 featuring an all-star lineup of lecturers.

O’Malley was determined to bring mentors with great leadership experience directly to the students in the Waseda lecture hall, so they could learn from those prominent speakers about everything from sports business to lessons from the Oval Office with two U.S. Presidents participating in the lectures.

During his 27 years in the United States, Ikuhara learned all aspects of the Dodger front office and worked closely with O’Malley in many international, amateur and professional exchanges. From March, 1965 when Ikuhara arrived in the United States, he and O’Malley bonded like brothers. His passing on October 26, 1992 at a young age was difficult for O’Malley. But when Ikuhara’s large scope of work was reflected upon and the longtime goodwill that had been created internationally, O’Malley wanted to do something memorable to honor him in Japan.  

Peter O’Malley speaks at the July 29, 2006 Akihiro “Ike” Ikuhara and Peter O’Malley Memorial Sports Management Class at Waseda University, Tokyo. The guest lecturer was Masato Mizuno, Chairman, Mizuno Corporation and was the seventh of 12 lectures presented by the class from 2003-2009.

On May 16, 2003, O’Malley addressed “The Challenges and Opportunities Facing Major League Baseball” to the 1st Akihiro “Ike” Ikuhara and Peter O’Malley Memorial Sports Management Class at Waseda University.

On May 16, 2003, Peter O’Malley, President, Los Angeles Dodgers (1970-1998) was the speaker at the 1st Akihiro “Ike” Ikuhara and Peter O’Malley Memorial Sports Management Class at Waseda University, Tokyo. This is the flyer from the 1st class which covered the topic “the Challenges and Opportunities Facing Major League Baseball”.

On May 16, 2003, Peter O’Malley, President, Los Angeles Dodgers (1970-1998) was the speaker at the 1st Akihiro “Ike” Ikuhara and Peter O’Malley Memorial Sports Management Class at Waseda University, Tokyo. This is the reverse side of the flyer in Japanese from the 1st class which covered the topic “the Challenges and Opportunities Facing Major League Baseball”.

A total of 12 classes were held through 2009, including an extraordinary list of guest speakers, who all enjoyed their time with the students and staff. Among them were the 41st President of the United States George H.W. Bush in 2006 and the 43rd President of the United States George W. Bush in 2009. Former U.S. Secretary of State and four-star U.S. Army General Colin Powell spoke to the students in 2007.

(L-R): Tsuneo Sogawa, Dean, School of Sports Science, Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan; cheerleaders from Waseda; Peter O’Malley; U.S. General Colin Powell; Takayasu Okushima, President, Waseda University, cheerleaders. On October 18, 2007, U.S. General and 65th Secretary of State Colin Powell gave the ninth lecture for the Akihiro “Ike” Ikuhara and Peter O’Malley Memorial Sports Management Class at Waseda.

Guest speakers from Japan included: Tsunekazu Takeda, President of Japan Olympic Committee in 2003; Tadao Koike, President, Pacific League, Nippon Professional Baseball in 2005; Atsuya Furuta, Tokyo Yakult Swallow Player/Manager and former President of Japan Professional Baseball Players Association in 2006; and Sadaharu Oh, Hall of Fame Yomiuri player and Chairman of the Board, Fukuoka Softbank Hawks, in 2009. 

October, 1989
(L-R) Sadaharu Oh; Peter O’Malley; Ike Ikuhara
Japan Hall of Fame legend Sadaharu Oh greets Peter O’Malley and Ike Ikuhara as they attend the 1989 Japan Series. The Giants lost the first three games of the series and then won four straight games for the Japan Series title. Oh was not manager of the Giants but dressed in uniform as a coach and instructor.

To further the educational experience, each year that the sports management class was held interns were selected to travel to Los Angeles and work in a variety of business departments for the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium.

At the January 21, 2009 lecture, Ikuhara’s widow Kimiko visited Waseda University for the special lecture presented by the world’s all-time home run king Sadaharu Oh and the installation of a plaque commemorating her husband. In 1997, Kimiko wrote a book in Japanese about her husband’s life in baseball titled, “The Man Who Married the Dodgers”.

In her remarks to that 2009 class about Ikuhara, who passed 17 years earlier, she said, “(Sotaro) Suzuki has provided a letter of introduction for Ike to his good friend Mr. Walter O’Malley, former owner of Dodgers organization, with just one letter we had crossed the ocean to the states. I believe Ikuhara was fascinated with O’Malley family’s kind heart to deal with people. Ikuhara always mentioned, ‘Kimiko, there is no owner like Peter’. Peter and Ike became like a brother relationship. The Japanese people believe (it) very difficult to earn the relationship and trust with just one page of letter of introduction. For example, O’Malley family has a patience to deal with a communication problem. Before going to the U.S., the first objective is ‘to become a leader.’ Ikuhara has since realized while working for the Dodgers, baseball is not just a manager, players, coaches, there is a lot of important role hidden behind the curtain. He described with pleasure about the struggle and efforts to make the Olympic medal sport, Mr. O’Malley’s idea of making baseball a global business.”

All the class dates and guest speakers are listed below:

1) May 16, 2003, Peter O'Malley, President, Los Angeles Dodgers (1970-1998) 

2) Nov.  1, 2003, Tsunekazu Takeda, President of Japan Olympic Committee

3) June 24, 2004, Tommy Lasorda, Senior Vice President, Dodgers

4) Jan. 26, 2005, Saburo Kawabuchi, Chairman of Japan Football Association

5) July 31, 2005, Tadao Koike, President, Pacific League, Nippon Professional Baseball

6) Jan. 27, 2006, Atsuya Furuta, Tokyo Yakult Swallow Player/Manager, Former President of Japan Professional Baseball Players Association

7) July 29, 2006, Masato Mizuno, Chairman, Mizuno Corporation

8) Dec. 15, 2006, George H.W. Bush, 41st President of the United States

9) Oct. 18, 2007, Gen. Colin L. Powell, 65th U.S. Secretary of State

10) March 26, 2008, Allan H. (Bud) Selig, Commissioner of Baseball

11) Jan. 21, 2009, Sadaharu Oh, Chairman of the Board, Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks Corp.  

12) Nov. 4, 2009, George W. Bush, 43rd President of the United States