Belittling Japanese baseball in 1980

From SABR member Larry Granillo at Baseball Prospectus on December 15, 2011:

Setting aside all things Ryan Braun and Albert Pujols this week, the big news around Major League Baseball has been the posting process of Japanese superstar pitcher Yu Darvish, who hopes to make a big splash next year while earning his NPB club, the Nippon Ham Fighters, a big payday. It’s been over 15 years since Hideo Nomo treated us to his version of Fernando-mania and more than ten since Ichiro became only the second player ever to win the Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player awards in the same year. The success of others who have followed in Nomo’s and Ichiro’s footsteps has varied, but by now the NPB-to-MLB transition is commonplace, if not entirely predictable. Thirty years ago, however, it was a very different story.

The December 1980 issue of “Baseball Digest” shows just how different the baseball world was then with an article called “Japanese Baseball Almost as Foreign as the Language”:

Every season, major league players head for the Land of the Rising Sun to prolong or enhance their baseball careers. They soon find, however, the Japanese version of America’s national pastime is almost as foreign as the language.

“They use a bat and a ball, but after that it’s not the same game,” remarked Myrta Cruz, whose husband, Tommy, plays outfield for the Nippon Ham Fighters.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: December 16, 2011. Last Updated: December 16, 2011.