A hilarious, informative, and riveting account of Japanese baseball and the cultural clashes that ensued when Americans began playing there professionally.
In Japan, baseball is a way of life. It is a philosophy. It is besuboru. Its most important element is wa—group harmony—embodied in the proverb "The nail that sticks up shall be hammered down." In this witty and incisive book, Robert Whiting gives us a close-up look at besuboru's teams, obsessive ritualism, and history, as seen through the eyes of American players who found the Japanese approach—rigorous pregame practices, the tolerance for tie games, injured pitchers encouraged to “pitch through the pain”—completely baffling. With vivid accounts of East meeting West, involving Babe Ruth, Ichiro Suzuki, Bobby Valentine, Japanese home run king Sadaharu Oh, and many others, this lively and completely unique book is an utter gem and baseball classic.
The ``wa'' one must have is the group harmony that is the essence of Japanese baseball. According to PW , ``this interesting comparative study of the sport as it is played on both sides of the Pacific concentrates on the American stars who have gone to play in Japan.'' Photos. (Oct.)