Baseball Manga Artist Shinji Mizushima Retires at 81

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Shinji Mizushima is seen in 2007.

Shinji Mizushima, a longtime leading figure in baseball manga, has announced his retirement through his agent.

For more than 60 years, Mizushima, 81, produced a series of manga masterworks about baseball players, both pros and amateurs. His best known works include “Dokaben,” “Abu-san” and “Yakyukyo no Uta” (Song of baseball enthusiasts). His announcement last week prompted many in the baseball industry and others to express their gratitude to the manga artist.

Many of his works have contributed to the popularity of baseball. “Dokaben” — a manga about a high school baseball player named Taro Yamada, and nicknamed Dokaben, dominating the national tournament at Koshien stadium alongside his teammates — was intermittently serialized in a manga magazine for 46 years until 2018. “Abu-san,” which features big hitter Yasutake Kageura, who is nicknamed Abu-san and plays for the Hawks, was carried in a magazine for 41 years until 2014.

“For a long time, he cheered us on with ‘Abu-san,'” said former baseball star Sadaharu Oh, chairman of the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks. “I think he is happy the Pacific League is doing well today. He was too busy for a long time, so I hope he’ll have a good rest.”

Popular manga artist Rumiko Takahashi shares the hometown of Niigata City with Mizushima.

“I really liked ‘Abu-san’ and ‘Yakyukyo no Uta,’ and I still treasure his autograph I got on a shikishi card at his autograph session in Niigata when I was a high school student,” she said. “Although it’s a pity he’s retiring, I’d like to thank him for creating such exciting manga.”

Mizushima has not cited any reason for the retirement.

In the retirement announcement, he thanked his fans for the long-term support and wrote, “I pray from the bottom of my heart for the successful evolution of the manga scene and the baseball scene going forward.”