Boyer decided that
he needed to be used more sparingly, and he asked the club to rest him every
third game. "I hit in the first two, but then I get tired," he
explained. "I'd do a better job with an extra day off."
The team trainer
argued that what Boyer needed was not more rest but more training. Because he
was older, the trainer reasoned, Boyer would have to work harder to keep up
with the others. The team owner, after considering the probable reaction of the
fans to an $80,000-a-year gaijin sitting on the bench a third of the time,
agreed with the trainer. Boyer reluctantly acquiesced. In an effort to keep his
energy level up, he took massive vitamin injections and worked very hard.
Still, he finished the season hitting .230 and then retired to coaching. His
goodwill, of course, remained intact.
obeyed all the rules, yet he ended up incurring the largest fine in Japanese
baseball history. His manager on the Lotte Orions, Masaichi Kaneda, Japan's
only 400-game winner and the "God of Pitching," had personally
recruited and signed Lefebvre—to a multiyear contract worth $100,000 a year—and
had predicted that Lefebvre would win the Triple Crown. Lefebvre hit only .265
with 29 home runs his first season. Hampered by a leg injury, he fared even
worse in succeeding years.
Kaneda was so
embarrassed that he resorted to open ridicule of his "star" in an
effort to regain lost face. Once, after Lefebvre had committed a particularly
damaging error, Kaneda apologized to the other players for the American's
"poor play." Another time, after a similar misplay, Kaneda temporarily
relegated his gaijin to a farm team.
logic in appealing to Kaneda. "Look, you won 400 games, right?" he
said. "That makes you the winningest pitcher in Japanese history,
Kaneda proudly replied.
"You also lost
250 games, didn't you?"
also makes you the losingest pitcher in Japanese history."