For most people, Mr. Baseball is their gateway into Japanese baseball, and we’re OK with that! The film does a good job showing the sometimes-bizarre and always-interesting life of a gaijin (foreigner) ballplayer in Japan.
Jack Elliot, played by Tom Selleck, is a talented but aging Major League Baseball player who finds himself traded to the Chunichi Dragons of Nippon Professional Baseball. The movie showcases Elliot’s challenging adjustment to life in Japan and features many comical moments as he tries to acclimate to the cultural differences and customs of Japan and Japanese baseball.
The film does a good job of showing the contrasts between American and Japanese baseball cultures and is a decent introduction to NPB. It highlights the respect for tradition and importance of teamwork that is inherit in Japanese baseball versus the more individualistic approach we often see in Major League Baseball. While at first, you might not find Elliot to be a particularly charismatic protagonist, we’re willing to bet you’ll find yourself cheering him on and rooting for his redemption and success in both baseball and life.
If you’re a fan of the classic sports underdog story and comedy, Mr. Baseball is a heartwarming and humorous watch.