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Marines fans deliver petition

by Jim Allen (Jun 16, 2009)

The Chiba Lotte Marines fans have spoken, or at least 110,000 of them have.

A group of fans protesting the front office's decision to let manager Bobby Valentine go after this season, delivered a petition to the parent company in Tokyo on Monday, asking the team to stick with the skipper.

The group claims to have collected around 110,000 signatures on the petition.

"We cannot be satisfied with his firing," Yasunari Tanaka, the representative for The Organization to Keep Manager Bobby Valentine, was quoted in the Jiji Press as saying.

"We don't think his salary, even though it's said to be 400 million yen, is high, because he has gotten results.

"We will do what we can to protect Bobby."

The group has been collecting signatures for two months.

"I try to imagine how much time went into that," Valentine told The Daily Yomiuri. "It was a lot of work by a lot of people."

Valentine, who managed the Marines to the Japan Series championship in 2005, was informed in December by team president Ryuzo Setoyama he would not manage the club in 2010, regardless of the team's results in 2009.

This is his seventh season as Marines skipper.

"The support petition is a lifetime memory that I'm watching before my eyes," Valentine said.

"Everything we did since I was here was tell them [the fans] that they were important. And we branded them. We branded them as part of us. Lotte was Team 26 [the Marines fan club].

"What we're known for around this country, is not me or [star shortstop Tsuyoshi] Nishioka, it's our fans. That's our brand. And they're proud of it."


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