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About JapanBall

by Trevor Raichura

Company History and Overview

Bob Bavasi at the JapanBall Hall of Fame

Bob Bavasi at the JapanBall Hall of Fame in Tokyo

Founded in 1999 by Bob Bavasi, JapanBall has been the leader in international baseball tourism and English-language Japanese baseball information for over 20 years. Bob, who stepped aside in 2019, and the current owner, Shane Barclay, have dedicated their professional lives to baseball. During their travels, they each fell in love with Japan and the Japanese version of the game. We believe that given the chance, other baseball fans would do the same! 

We aim to be your source for all-things international baseball (not just Japan!) – news and information, interesting articles and videos, and baseball-centric tours. We believe that the best way to experience a new culture is by attending a local, live sporting event and hope to facilitate that experience for as many people as possible. However, we know traveling abroad isn’t always feasible, so in the meantime, we’ll help you learn more about the international game!

Our Team

Hey there! I’m Shane Barclay, the owner and operator of JapanBall.

Jessie and me at the Tokyo Dome

Jessie and me at the Tokyo Dome for MLB Opening Day 2019 (Ichiro’s last series!).

I don’t recall exactly when or how it happened, but the first thing that I remember feeling true love for as a child was baseball. That love has remained constant, and I’ve devoted myself to the game ever since, whether in social, athletic, academic, or professional settings.

I wrote my college application essay about Michael Lewis’s Moneyball and how I intended to use my education to get a job in baseball. Then, while at UC Berkeley (Go Bears!), I studied abroad in the Dominican Republic to experience a baseball-crazed culture and learn Spanish.

After graduation, the Arizona Diamondbacks hired and assigned me to the Visalia Rawhide of the California League. I endured the infamous long bus rides and shockingly brash clubhouses of the minor leagues… and loved every minute of it. Then, it was back to the Dominican Republic to work for MLB’s Office of the Commissioner.

I worked for MLB for two years in the D.R. and seven in Manhattan. My duties included international player development, contract approvals, and working on MLB-operated events such as the World Baseball Classic, All-Star Futures Game, and Arizona Fall League.

While in New York, I married my life’s second true love (in sequence, not importance) – Jessie. Jessie and I grew up together in Cupertino, California and, although the bustle of New York City was tons of fun, the pull of home was too strong. In 2018, we moved to Santa Cruz, where the decision of “beach or mountains” replaced “subway or taxi,” and I could doggedly begin to fulfill my imagined destiny of being a surfer.

MLB retained me to work as a Consultant on the World Baseball Classic, but I needed even more of a baseball fix. So, I parlayed the coolest parts of my former job (traveling and watching baseball) into working with Bob Bavasi of Bavasi Sports Partners on his long-running JapanBall tours. While doing so, I earned certification as a Japan Travel Specialist from the Japanese Government’s National Tourism Organization and was quickly convinced to make baseball travel my professional focus.

After leading a number of his tours, I worked closely with Bob to assume the operation and ownership of JapanBall in 2020. It is my goal to strengthen our Japanese base while growing into a truly global source for baseball travel and information.

I am thrilled to continue exploring the world with fellow adventurous baseball lovers.

I’ll see you at the yard!

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Michael Westbay, along with his wife Margarita, runs the ticketing concierge service JapanBallTickets.com. He was born and raised in California’s Central Valley, but then his father took a civilian job at the Yokosuka Naval Base in Japan as Michael entered 10th grade. The family lived in Yokohama and introduced their country boy to life in a metropolis, and he fell in love with Japan

Michael graduated from San Diego State University with a degree in Computer Science. He was the first such SDSU graduate to also attain a minor in Japanese. Michael returned to Japan to join a Tokyo software company in 1991. Mostly working with databases, he merged his passion for baseball into a Japanese baseball player registry that has evolved over the years to be the core of ScoutDragon, an information system that feeds MLB teams with Japanese and Korean baseball data.

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Trevor Raichura, originally from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, is our on-the-ground source for Japanese baseball news. After giving up on his ambitions of becoming a sports journalist during his freshman year of college, he graduated from the University of Manitoba with a Bachelor of Education in 1998 and moved to Japan soon after.

Twelve years in Okinawa were followed by a year in Hokkaido, during which he finished a Master of Arts from Anaheim University. He met his future wife, Yumi, on a flight from Vancouver to Tokyo in 2010 and, a year later, moved to her hometown of Kobe. He has lived in the Kansai region for the past eight years.

Now teaching English at local universities and writing about sports (the old dream came true!), Trevor is enjoying raising two young boys to become Hanshin Tigers fans. He is well-known to English-speaking fans of Japanese baseball for running TheHanshinTigers.com, a respected blog that has also earned Trevor a role as a columnist for Daily Sports, a regional sports newspaper.

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Takumi Fujitsuka, affectionately known to our guests as “Fuji-san,” is a tour guide and Japan baseball expert.

Fuji-san is a scout and translator for the Kagawa Olive Guyners of the professional independent Shikoku Island League in Japan. He scours the Japanese high school ranks for the next Ohtani, Nomo, or Ichiro. He is an aspiring MLB scout, and his career goal is to scout and sign the first Japanese battery (pitcher and catcher) in MLB history.

Fuji-san attended and played baseball at Martin Methodist College in Pulaski, Tennessee and Concordia College in Alabama. He is from the Osaka town of Neyagawa, which prides itself as the home of former MLB pitcher Koji Uehara. He now lives in Osaka with his wife and two cats.

Contact Information

JapanBall – USA Office

2727 Oakes Ave, Suite 102
Everett, WA 98201
USA Office:  646-391-3130

JapanBall – Japan Office

13-27 Ottomo-cho, Kanazawa-ku
Yokohama, Kanagawa 236-0024
Japan Office:  +81-90-9974-8156