Signed by the Author: The Chrysanthemum and the Bat by Robert Whiting
Acclaimed author Robert Whiting is best known for his bestseller You Gotta Have Wa!, published in 1989. And he burst back onto the Japanese baseball scene with 2004’s The Meaning of Ichiro. But it all started with The Chrysanthemum and the Bat: The Game Japanese Play.
Whiting moved to Japan in 1962 and found that whenever he talked to his friends back in the U.S., they always wanted to hear more of his stories of Japanese baseball. Nothing about the country’s fascinating history of rulers, the rapid transformation of Tokyo, or the perfect balance between Buddhism and Shinto – just baseball. But Whiting found that baseball was actually the perfect vehicle to talk about Japan’s unique national character.
Motivated by a $500 bet that he wouldn’t write a book within a year (as explained to JapanBall’s “Chatter Up” audience in August 2021), Whiting compiled his observations of Japan’s culture- exemplified through baseball – into this wonderful book that TIME named its 1977 sports book of the year.