Japanese Sports Reporter in Hot Water After Asking for Autograph

By: No autographs allowed - in any language.

When a Japanese reporter recently asked Roger Clemens for an autograph, he got a signed photo and a swift penalty: His membership in the Baseball Writers? Association of America was revoked.

Hiroki Homma of the Fuji Evening News said he didn?t realize he was breaking the rules, though he took full responsibility and apologized to the New York Yankees.

?I didn?t know,? Homma said. ?It was my fault.?

In Japan, reporters aren?t allowed inside baseball locker rooms. They request postgame interviews through public relations officials, and players emerge from the clubhouse to answer questions in street clothes. But sportswriters and players often have a much friendlier relationship than in the United States. That sort of relationship sometimes leads to Japanese reporters requesting autographs from players back home.

Signs posted in big league dugouts and clubhouses remind reporters they?re not allowed to ask for autographs.

Homma, in his first season covering the Yankees, said he approached Clemens on July 5 with a stack of pictures of the pitcher taken by the newspaper?s photographer. Homma said he presented the pictures to Clemens, figuring the seven-time Cy Young Award winner would enjoy having them to commemorate his 350th win. Then, Homma asked Clemens to sign one of the photos for him, which Clemens did. A member of the Yankees security staff noticed and mentioned it to Isao Hirooka, the club?s Pacific Rim media advisor.

The BBWAA confiscated Homma?s card. He can apply for membership again next year.

According to team policy, the Yankees revoked Homma?s season credential, but will replace it with a pass on a game-by-game basis.


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