The Samurai Way of Baseball: The Impact of Ichiro and the New Wave from Japan
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Ichiro...Nomo...Hasegawa...Hideki Matsui...one by one they have come to America and made their mark as incredibly gifted and popular ballplayers. But this new wave of athlete-led by the sensational Ichiro Suzuki, whom many refer to as the best all-around player-is just the tip of a fascinating iceberg. Illuminating a deep and very different tradition of baseball, Whiting shows why more Japanese players will be coming to America...and how they will forever transform the way our game is played. Grandly entertaining and deeply revealing, The Samurai Way of Baseball is a classic book about sports, business, and stardom-in a world that is changing before our eyes.
everyman, an empathetic hero for those who wondered if their endless, anonymous toil as salarymen, or office ladies, might ever pay off. In an era where Japanese heroes tended to be pop stars with spiky hair and equally spiky personalities, he was reassuring evidence that the old ways still survived. An unabashedly nice guy, always ready to accommodate his adoring Japanese fans with an autograph and reporters with an interview, Matsui had never been known to complain about anything to
had asked for the same kind of money that the top guys are making.” The Yakult Swallows’ curmudgeonly manager Katsuya Nomura, a man notoriously critical of young players, had nothing but praise for this brightest of new stars in the NPB constellation. “He’s wonderful,” gushed Nomura. “He hits well. He runs well. He plays good defense. He’s polite in his private life and is kind to his parents. I’ve never seen anyone like him. It’s strange that such a person is born into this world.” At the
all over the park. Suzuki was unable to walk in downtown Seattle without being mobbed. Ironically, those owners who initially opposed Yamauchi’s acquisition wound up benefiting from it heftily thanks to MLB TV broadcasting contracts with Japan that proved to be worth tens of millions of dollars. Author Shawn Wong, an Asian-American professor of English at the University of Washington who had himself experienced discrimination, was particularly happy about the way things ultimately turned out.
in D.C., I was still involved in Japanese affairs and know of no efforts by the U.S. government to pressure the U.S. major leagues to not sign Japanese players. If there was anything like this going on, I suspect the embassy would have known about it.” Marvin Miller, an active participant in and close monitor of the baseball scene for the last 40 years of the 20th century, said, “I never heard even a rumor that there was political pressure on the big leagues to keep their hands off the Japanese.”
good as Ichiro’s. Although he was a .249 lifetime hitter who could not hit the outside breaking pitch, he rose above himself in 2000 when he batted .278 with 28 home runs, 85 RBIs and 15 stolen bases. Becoming a free agent, in his ninth year, he unexpectedly turned down several multimillion-dollar, multiyear offers from Central League teams and, seemingly on a whim, signed with the New York Mets for a reported league-minimum $200,000. Already dubbed “Airhead” and “Spaceman” by detractors,