Did you know that 30+ years before Hideo Nomo, the San Francisco Giants had a Japanese pitching sensation on their club? I don’t blame you if you don’t, because Masanori Murakami’s tale is not well-known. “Mashi” had an adventurous and courageous spirit to pair with a talented left arm, and his place in history is iron-clad: he was the first Japanese player in Major League Baseball.
Historian Rob Fitts has written 6+ books about Japanese baseball, but it all started with this one. Inspired by the relative lack of written information about historical baseball figures in Japan, especially in the English language, Rob relays the tales that make up the unique character of the Japanese game. This book is an important one, and I recommend it for anyone that wants to take that next step in getting to know some of NPB’s legendary players – or just loves a great baseball story, because it’s full of them!
In a sea of baseball biographies, this one is a shimmering tropical fish! Rob Fitts certainly picked a good subject in Yonamine, the standout baseball and football player from Hawaii. The history of Japanese baseball couldn’t be told without Wally Yonamine, but his story is uniquely American too. I just wish that I could have seen Wally play in person!