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Japan professional league chief quits over ball scandal

(Reuters) - The chief of professional baseball in Japan announced his resignation on Thursday over criticism that the league had changed the design of balls to produce more home runs.

Nippon Professional Baseball commissioner Ryozo Kato, who was elected to the post for his third term last year, will step down after the end of the season in October.

"I caused a lot of problems over the ball, and that was a huge reason for my decision," Kato was quoted as saying by the Kyodo news agency.

"I felt the faster we got off to a fresh start, the better. I still have a month, so I'd like to do whatever I can by then."

The players' union had called for the resignation of the 72-year-old Kato, a former Japanese ambassador to the United States, after the league admitted in June of changing the specifics of the ball which increased the number of home runs.

(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Alan Baldwin)