Masaichi Kaneda: The Emperor

Kaneda 400th Win

In Japan, during the 1950s and 1960s, Masaichi Kaneda, Shigeo Nagashima, Sadaharu Oh and Katsuya Nomura were the faces of professional baseball. Nagashima, a third baseman, and Oh, a first baseman, were power-hitting teammates for the Yankees of Japan, the Yomiuri Giants. Nomura was the home run-slugging catcher for the Nankai Hawks, and Masaichi Kaneda […]

Isao Harimoto: The Greatest Hitter in Japanese Baseball History

Harimoto-Orions

On a nice Spring afternoon in 1959, our father took us to see the Toei Flyers (now called the Nippon Ham Fighters… of Yu Darvish fame) play the Nankai Hawks at Namba Yakyujo, home of the Hawks in Osaka, Japan. The Flyers’ left fielder was an emerging rookie named Isao Harimoto, a left-hander who was […]

Kazuhisa Inao: The Greatest “Big Game” pitcher in Japanese Baseball History

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Those of us who grew up during the ’50s in Japan all knew about Kazuhisa “Iron Man” Inao. In fact, he earned that nickname on his way to 276 career victories and a revered place in Japan’s Baseball Hall of Fame. Victor Starffin and Tadashi “Bozo” Wakabayashi, great pitchers in their era, were now retired. […]

Eiji Sawamura: The First Great Japanese Pitcher

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I first heard the legend of Eiji Sawamura when I was in elementary school. My Japanese friends in our neighborhood, and their fathers and grandfathers, told me about how he had struck out Ruth, Gehrig, Gehringer and Foxx… in order. My father confirmed the story, and filled in the missing parts of the legend. It seemed hard […]

Yu Darvish: Dollars and Doubts

In 201, Yu Darvish became 1st NPB pitcher (since the start of the 2 league system) to pitch 5 straight seasons with an ERA under 2.

Everyone is now aware that the AL’s Texas Rangers won the bidding to negotiate with Yu Darvish for a mega-bucks contract. Yes, it appears that, barring a surprise, the Nippon Ham Fighters’ star pitcher will join the Rangers rotation for the foreseeable future. Total cost to the Rangers? In the neighborhood of $125 million. Of […]

Victor Starffin: The Greatest Pitcher in Japanese Baseball History?

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Victor Starffin, except for a fluke of history, might have been a member of the American baseball Hall of Fame. He was the first pitcher to win 300 games in Japanese baseball history, and was elected to the Japan Professional Baseball Hall of Fame in 1960. Much of his family history is speculative and disputed, […]

Valentine’s Day in Boston

In 2004, Valentine began his 2nd stretch as manager of the Chiba Lotte Marines baseball club in Japan. In 2005, the Marines beat the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks for their first Pacific League pennant in 31 years.

  Bobby Valentine will now take the helm of the troubled ship that is the Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox are one of baseball’s most storied clubs, and it will take a leader with strong resolve to lead them. In Valentine, the Red Sox hierarchy has chosen well. Valentine has a history as a […]

History of Baseball: The Man From Maui

Wally Yonamine

A previous post about the great pitcher, Tadashi “Bozo” Wakabayashi, prompted an ongoing conversation about who is the greatest Hawaiian athlete of all time. There are many candidates… Buster Crabbe, Gerry Lopez, the legendary Duke Kahanamoku… and several other worthy athletes. For my money, the greatest athlete in the history of Hawaii is… the man […]

History of Baseball: The Man From Hawaii

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On Wednesday, October 26th, Game 6 of the World Series 2011 was postponed due to rain. And, the article in this column about Goro Mikami struck a chord with American and Japanese baseball history enthusiasts. In fact, I received comments regarding the great Osaka Hanshin Tigers pitcher, also mentioned in the article, Tadashi “Bozo” Wakabayashi. […]

History of Baseball: Japan’s First Pro Ballplayer in America

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The history of baseball is often a reflection of American culture. Sometimes, the history of baseball in Japan merges with the history of baseball in America. A friend of mine was recently involved in a heated debate with a business associate about who was the first professional baseball player from Japan to play in the […]