Saturday, January 30, 2010
Two different cultures
In the days before Ichiro joined the major leagues the movement of baseball players was only one way. Several American Major League players traveled to Japan to play baseball. What they found was a game with the same basic rules but somehow completely different. They encountered practices that would put our military boot camps to shame in their intensity. They encountered managers who spoke in the voice of God, owners who meddled more than George Steinbrenner thought about and umpires who had multiple strike zones (oh wait that’s the same). Ties were commonplace, one did not charge a pitcher or argue with the umpires. The game of baseball in Japan was completely different than in the USA, many of the players lasted a season or less. Those that lasted longer, often were neglected and dishonored when they did extremely well. Robert Whiting, who lives in Japan, gives an even handed account of what it was like for the gaijin in Japan. He has since written a book about Ichiro and others coming to the USA which I am looking forward to reading.