Kosaka: Excavating Japan’s buried baseball history with Masanori Murakami

From Kris Kosaka at the Japan Times on April 18, 2015, with mention of SABR member Rob Fitts:

Sometimes historical analysis can’t compete with a good personal story, as Robert K. Fitts — a baseball expert and former archaeologist — proves with his newest book, “Mashi: The Unfulfilled Baseball Dreams of Masanori Murakami, the First Japanese Major Leaguer.”

Masanori Murakami is the first baseball player from Japan to play for a Major League team in the U.S. — his story takes place 30 years before pitcher Hideo Nomo burst onto the Major League baseball scene in May, 1995.

After debuting in 1964, at 20-years-old, Murakami (aka “Mashi”) enjoyed a year of exciting success during a pennant race as the closing pitcher for the San Francisco Giants until obligations and a series of personal decisions sent him back to Japan forever. Fans can finally read his full story in Fitts’ book, but don’t expect a cross-cultural analysis of baseball. The reverberations of Mashi’s success may have cut connections between the Nippon Professional Baseball league and the Major Leagues in the U.S. for three decades, but that historical context is not as important to Fitts as Murakami’s personal narrative.

“I wanted to focus on the study of a person — one person’s choices,” he says. “So the broader context is not historical so much this time, but more about human choice, regret as we get older and repercussions that may be unexpected.”

Read the full article here: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/culture/2015/04/18/books/excavating-japans-buried-baseball-history-masanori-murakami/#.VTWbsma5w7C

Originally published: April 20, 2015. Last Updated: April 20, 2015.