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Takeshi Hirabayashi likely to join NPB umpire’s technical committee in 2012

by on Dec.13, 2011 @ 2:23 am, under NPB

The media learned on Monday that Takeshi Hirabayashi (45) will most likely be joining the NPB umpire's technical committee in 2012.  His position on the committee will be to pass on the knowledge he gained while in the US over the last few years.

Background info

Hirabayashi tried out for a job as an NPB umpire after graduating from Kokugakuin University, but was turned down because he failed a vision test.  He turned his sights to the US and began his career as a minor league umpire after attending Jim Evans Academy of Professional Umpiring in 1992.  He returned to Japan in 1993 for an umpiring job in the Pacific League.

After the 2002, Hirabayashi decided to quit out of frustration with the lack of power NPB umpires had .  After some delays, he made his return to the minors in 2005, beginning with the Gulf Coast League.  From there he made his way up to the Triple-A International League in 2009 and moved on to the Pacific Coast League in 2010.  That same year, he also became the first Japanese umpire to work behind the plate during an MLB game (an exhibition game between the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds on 4/3/2010).

Hirabayashi ran into some roadblocks that almost kept him from returning to the US in 2011, but persevered and maintained his status as an Triple-A umpire in the Pacific Coast League.  On September 21, 2011, Hirabayashi posted a note on his blog that he missed out on being named to the Arizona Fall League umpiring crew.  He also added that he felt his career in the US was pretty much over.