Baseball Reflections Now on Japanese Baseball

I’m excited to contribute to Baseball Reflections because it combines two of my loves: Japan and baseball.

I grew up with an Okinawan mother and an American father. Even though I thought my mom’s heritage was cool, I barely noticed because I spent all of my time sitting next to my dad watching sports. Growing up in North Carolina, it was all about ACC hoops and the Atlanta Braves. I loved watching sports so much as a child that I made it my career: I’m a graphics operator for live sporting events (Essentially, what that means is when you watch a Yankees game on TV and read on the screen that Derek Jeter has an RBI double, I typed that). My love of Japan evolved as I became an adult and realized that I’d missed out on an amazing culture for most of my life. A decade ago I began taking Japanese lessons and traveling to Japan to explore and to reconnect with my family in Okinawa.

My interest in Japanese baseball began after I saw the Tom Selleck movie “Mr. Baseball.” The movie was horrible, but watching it actually helped me find “You Gotta Have Wa,” the ultimate book about Japanese baseball by Robert Whiting (Had you worried there for a minute, didn’t I?). In 2004 I went to Tokyo as a member of the YES Network television crew to broadcast four New York Yankees games. Researching Japanese baseball led me to JapanBall.com, a website put together by Bob Bavasi. In 2008 my husband and I finally joined Bob on his tour of Japanese baseball, and I was hooked. I returned the following year, and I plan to go every year for as long as I can. I’ve written about my experiences on the tour for yesnetwork.com and my blog, and I run the JapanBall fan page on Facebook.

My first few posts will cover the structure of Japanese baseball, former MLBers who are playing in Japan, and Japanese players who are here. I have a lot of contacts in Japanese baseball, so I hope to report about prospects.

I am also open to suggestions; feel free to send me an e-mail (smhamaker@gmail.com) with questions about any aspect of Japanese baseball and what you’d like to learn. If I don’t know the answers, I’ll do my best to find them. Regardless, the discussion will be fun.

I’m looking forward to contributing, and I hope you enjoy reading and learning about Japanese baseball. Gambaremasu (I’ll do my best!)!

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