First ASA International
Hall of Fame Inductee, Revisited
ASA President Lou Schwartz, on a recent visit to Tokyo, renewed his friendship with Masao Hazama, who was the first inductee of the ASA's International Hall of Fame at ASA's fourth annual Hall of Fame Dinner in 1987. Hazama, one of NHK TV's top sportscasters from the 1950's to the 1990's, is still on the air at NHK Tokyo. The following are excerpts from an interview Schwartz conducted with Hazama. Also in attendance was Yutaka Morohoshi, fellow NHK broadcaster and Obirin University's Vice President for Academic Affairs. Morohoshi served as an interpreter for Hazama in 1987 and also interpreted for this interview.
Lou Schwartz: How long have you been broadcasting?
Masao Hazama: 50 years.
LS: Do you remember how you got your first start?
MH: I did the weather on NHK in Tokyo in 1954.
LS: When did you change from weather to sports?
MH: Every NHK announcer had to be deployed in local affiliate stations throughout the country. It's like doing the minor leagues and working your way up to the majors. After a short period of time, since there were no real sportscasters, NHK asked me to do sports.
LS: How much were you paid?
MH: 70 yen (which is equal to $30) a month. That was 50 years ago. That was an average salary for a university professor. A third of it went for room and board and the rest was for spending.
LS: What was your first break into a larger market?
MH: About three years after joining NHK, the New YorkYankees came to town and I was named by the NHK headquarters to do the play-by-play.
LS: What sports did you cover in your career?
MH: With the exception of Sumo Wrestling, I did every sport there was to be done in Japan. I enjoyed doing golf most.>
LS: That's history making. How many Olympics did you cover?
MH: 11 Olympics. My first was the 1964 Games in Tokyo. I did both Summer and Winter Olympics. I believe Jim McKay did 12.
LS: What particular event in your broadcasting career stands out as the most memorable?
MH: Pole Vaulting at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, where by the way we worked from 9am to 10pm. A most memorable moment was when the U.S. Pole Vaulter Fred Hansen was on the verge of losing the Gold Medal, a medal the U.S. had won in that event since the start of the Olympics, to Rheinhardt, the German Pole Vaulter. After a see-saw battle for hours, Hansen was victorious. That was truly a memorable moment.