Cover image for The meaning of Ichiro : the new wave from Japan and the transformation of our national pastime
The meaning of Ichiro : the new wave from Japan and the transformation of our national pastime
Whiting, Robert.
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Publication Information:
New York, NY : Warner Books, [2004]

Physical Description:
xvii, 318 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
The education of Ichiro -- The meaning of Ichiro -- Some history and some philosophy -- Accidental pioneer -- The defector -- Darth Vader, the fat toad, and Alfonso Soriano -- Gaijin -- Gaijin kantoku -- The others -- Matsui.
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Call Number
Material Type
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Item Holds
GV865.S895 W55 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Matsui... Nomo... Sasaki... Ichiro... the so-called American "National Pastime" has developed a decidedly Japanese flair. Indeed, in this year's All-Star game, two of the starting American League outfielders were from Japan. And for the third straight year, Ichiro - the fleet-footed Seattle Mariner - received more votes for the All-Star game than any other player in the game today. Some 15 years ago, in the bestseller "You Gotta Have Wa," Robert Whiting examined how former American major league ballplayers tried to cope with a different culture while playing pro ball in Japan. Now, Whiting reverses his field and reveals how select Japanese stars have come across the Pacific to play in the big leagues. Not only have they had to deal with the American way of life, but they have individually changed the game in dramatic fashion.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The author of You Gotta Have Wa (1989), about the nature of Japanese baseball, wraps his occasionally purple prose around first Seattle Mariner star Ichiro Suzuki and then other Japanese players who came to the big leagues in this country. He also examines American players and managers who went to play in Japan, such as Bobby Valentine and Alfonso Soriano. Ichiro (tellingly known by his one name only, like Cher or Bono) led the most Japanese of lives, trained by his father from earliest childhood and then in the Japanese style of baseball drill, which closely resembles boot camp. Ichiro's almost magical style and speed are grounded in that training but were allowed to blossom only when he was free of it. Despite reading a bit repetitiously, this collection of essays delivers considerable insight into the near-opposite American and Japanese approaches to baseball and to the culture of the game. --GraceAnne DeCandido Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Whiting (You Gotta Have It) offers an intriguing glimpse into Japanese culture and the way baseball has shaped society in that country, as players wrestle with their desire to compete against the world's best while honoring the rigid mores of their homeland. The book isn't so much about Seattle Mariners star Ichiro Suzuki as it is about every Japanese player who made the jump to the U.S. before and after him, how they fared and what role they played in America's pastime-like the aloof Kasuhisa Ishii, the flamboyant "spaceman" Tsuyoshi Shinjo and the underachieving Hideki Irabu, famously derided by Yankee owner George Steinbrenner as a "fat, pussy toad." A few have succeeded, some have failed and many still toil in the U.S. Equally intriguing is super-agent Don Nomura, who found the loopholes in the Japanese players' contracts (league rules were translated from American minor league baseball's from the 1930s) that enabled the pioneers to make the break for Major League Baseball. Whiting effectively sprinkles in Japanese words to explain and illustrate principles and customs, and his extensive knowledge of both baseball and culture in that country makes for a compelling read. Details such as Hideki Matsui's taste for adult movies, the real genesis of his Godzilla nickname and Hideo Nomo's demand for large payments for print and TV interviews back in Japan add flavor, and reportage on Kazuo Matsui signing with the Mets this past off-season keeps the book up to the minute. Agent, Amanda Urban. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Choice Review

In You Gotta Have Wa (1989), Whiting introduced readers to the world of Japanese baseball and Japanese notion of group spirit and harmony (wa). Here he examines the introduction of Japanese players into the US, including their impact on the US "national pastime." The book takes its title from Ichiro Suzuki, one of the best baseball players in the world, a former Japanese Baseball League star and now a fan favorite with the Seattle Mariners. The author follows Ichiro from age three, when his father began to groom him to be the best player in the world, to his high school career and ultimate emigration to the US. Whiting also looks at other Japanese players of the last 50 years who have relocated to the US--Nideo Nomo, Hideki Matsui, et al. Though familiarity with baseball is prerequisite to enjoying Ichiro to its fullest, this fascinating book can be appreciated without such knowledge. And the book could not be more timely, given the continued internationalization of US sports and the outstanding contributions non-US players make to baseball and basketball--this during a period when Japan is undergoing players' strikes and coping with a drain of superstars to the US. ^BSumming Up: Essential. Collections supporting sport history and sociology; all levels. A. R. Sanderson University of Chicago