Lets face it, in its glorious past Major League Baseball has never been on the cutting edge. For certain things they may have been ahead of the curve but for most things, not so much. On this very day in 2015, we as fans all know about the Japanese league of baseball, as many of our players leave here to play over seas. Also many of their stars have done the same and crossed the ocean to pursue a career in the states. Today’s book takes a look at the very first player who was chosen to bridge the gap between the two countries and leagues and the results that followed.
Robert Fitts has undertaken a great task with this book. Not only do you have to make sure your details are accurate and spot on but he also has the cultural gap to overcome. Masahiro Murakami was the first Japanese player hand-picked to be sent to the United States to the San Francisco Giants. He originally came as a group of three players but was the only one of the three to have any sort of success on the bigger stage.
Fitts takes you through the upbringing of Murakami and the strict cultural rules he was raised by. You also get a glimpse of the way that Japanese leagues operate and personal standards that the players must maintain. The differences are staggering in both training and requirements to be on a professional team in that country. It shows what a large cultural difference that exist in both leagues and society’s.
You see Mashi’s rise through spring training camps and the minor leagues to reach the big stage in San Francisco. Success on the field was not enough to overcome Mashi’s sense of duty to his family and dedication to his league and country, which eventually were his reason’s for going back and playing in Japan. One of the most interesting things I found in this book was the business dealings and player contracts that effected Mashi’s career. I think personally in the end nobody was sure who truly owned his contract. Which again points out more of the differences between the two baseball operations.
This book also shows the reader the broader picture of how it was helping to mend relations of two bitter enemies in World War II. It showed how baseball can play a positive role in society’s problems. This event was monumental in bringing the two nations back to the table with each other and allowing a better relationship to move forward. It is a fine example of international diplomacy fostered by a kids game.
This may be a little late but the author Rob Fitts and Mashi are currently on a book signing tour in the United States, so you may want to check his website to see if they are near you. Meeting Masahiro Murakami is more than likely a once in a lifetime event for most fans. http://www.robfitts.com
You can also get this book from the nice folks at University of Nebraska Press