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Americans in Japanese Baseball League

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Americans in Japanese Baseball League
I am a student at WakeForest University and I am doing a report on how former American players adapt to Japanese Baseball. What are the differences, in both culture and communication, that the Americans have to adapt to?
Re: Americans in Japanese Baseball League
[ Author: Guest | Posted: Mar 4, 2002 1:12 PM ]

It sounds like everyone's doing reports or research on Japanese baseball these days. Look fellas, don't waste Mr. Westbaystars' time with the same questions over and over.

My advice is this: read all the posts about this subject on this website and if that's not enough, then read Robert Whiting's books "The Chrysanthemum and the Bat," "You Gotta Have Wa," and "Slugging it Out in Japan." There are no shortcuts. Just open those books and start reading.
Re: Americans in Japanese Baseball League
[ Author: westbaystars | Posted: Mar 4, 2002 6:47 PM | YBS Fan ]

Thanks, Guest, for pointing out what should be obvious (and is in the FAQ).

I do enjoy answering questions and seeing some good discussions come out of these, like the one that took off on this thread about "Mr. Baseball." And for the most part, the questions (or overviews) have all been different - even though they all seem to have the same title/subject line.

What I would really like to see is more concrete questions and less vague statements on what a given paper is about. Once the general research has been done (and these books are a great starting point), then questions on specific instances for examples would be much more welcome. Or better yet, cut and paste the first draft of your paper here for a "public review" of it. It seems to me that five fanatical fans proof reading a report for facts could benefit any paper. And could even add to it in many ways that were probably not even tought of by the original author.
[ Author: westbaystars | Posted: Mar 4, 2002 7:13 PM | YBS Fan ]

- [H]ow [do] former American players adapt to Japanese Baseball[?]

Well, those from South America often need interpreters who speak Spainish or Portugese, whereas North Americans tend to need interpreters who speak English. Non-English speaking Americans are often put on a spot in the hero interview with only an English speaking interpreter.

Of course, those players from Hiroshima's Carp Acadamy in the Dominican Republic often have some training in the Japanese language before being called over to Japan. They can often chat with their team mates to an extent, but still don't do hero interviews in Japanese.

Even Tuffy Rhodes, who speaks fairly fluent Kansai-ben, does his hero interviews in English for the most part.

- What are the differences, in both culture and communication, that the Americans have to adapt to?

Well, there are a lot of different cultures in the Americas. Even North America has different subcultures throughout it.

This thread has commentary by one former NPB from North America. Perhaps something there can shed light on the topic.
Re: Americans in Japanese Baseball League
[ Author: seiyu | Posted: Mar 5, 2002 1:12 AM ]

I just want to point out something which I felt about the foreign soccer players in Japan. I am not a big soccer fan but whenever I see players like Santos, Wagner Lopes and luis Ramos, I am amazed at their ability to really get assimilated into Japanese society. Not only they learn to speak fluent Japanese, they all seem to be eager to study the culture.

Compared to the arrogant attitude exhibited by most American baseball players (including the ones who came from 2A or 3A) with an exception of some like the Lee brothers, Japanese people appreciate these soccer players. This is probably because these soccer players come from Third World countries like Brazil. They appreciate the fact that they are making good money in a nice and peaceful nation like Japan.

I think this can be generally said for any foreigners living in Japan. When I was growing up in Tokyo in an International school seting, I also sensed that the kids who assimiliate language and culture more readily are kids from Third World countries. Most American and European kids weren't really interested in learning how to speak Japanese or getting to know the people and the culture. If they see something which they weren't accustomed to, all they did was criticize and complain. Of course there are exceptions like the honorable commissioner of, Mr. W, but I would say 80% of American and European ex-pats have that arrogant attitude.

The same can be said for Japanese ex-pats living in the US. Now I have a chance to get to know a bunch of these so called Japanese "chuuzai-nin"-types in New York. All they do is complain about how slow and inefficient the services and how bad the food is and etc. So I would like to say one last word to these whining American, Japanese, and European Ex-pats, Well if they don't like it so much, get the hell out of the country!!!

Fitting In
[ Author: westbaystars | Posted: Mar 5, 2002 10:16 AM | YBS Fan ]


I think you got to the heart of the matter with adoptation. Those who are more willing to immerse themselves in the culture are more likely to enjoy their time here. The Lee brothers are one good example. Kevin Mitchell and Mike Greenwell are two examples of players who were unwilling to adjust.

It's been my observation that the North Americans who really do well in adopting to Japan are the slightly nerdy types. (And, yes, I fall under that group.) The "popular" kids seem to have it made in society in the U.S., able to get what ever they want. But the unpopular kids in their own society can become popular in Japan because of their differences. (It's annoying sometimes, but...)

For example. In school, I was a shy, quiet kid who sat in the back of the room. I did the work that was required of me, and did fairly well in my classes. I had friends, but not in the "in group." I still hear echos of a girl in my 9th grade algebra class complaining of my setting the curve too high, "that's no fair, he studies." What do you mean by "he studies?" I just did the homework and turned it in like everyone else! I was taken aback for being accused of studying!

After moving to Japan in 10th grade, I thought about that statement a lot. What's so bad about studying? What's so bad about doing what is expected of one? What has happened to values in the U.S.A.? Does nobody there appriciate one who is majime ("serious, earnest, sincere")? It just seems to me that mamena ("diligent") people were much more appriciated in Japan than in the U.S. I even find that the words come out easier in Japanese than in English to describe the concepts, to which the above translations are close.

Nonetheless, I was able to get a level of self confidence in Japan that I don't think I ever would have gotten if I'd have continued living in the U.S. Instead of being critisized for doing a good job, I am respected by my peers.

Getting back to baseball, though. Radio and TV announcers have a phrase for those who don't fit in: "Major League pride." This holds for career minor leaguers as well. The foreign players who can get over their Major League pride the quickest are the ones that tend to make more friends and have a good time while they're here. As Seiyu-san points out, it's often South American players who do this. They tend to have less to lose by taking chances and breaking ties in their "old country."

On the other hand, North Americans who were always popular, the team captain and such, don't like being put into a situation where they aren't in charge. And foreign players, no matter how big a name, are not in charge while they're in Japan. I think that this is the biggest hurdle faced by many a former All-State team captain.

But I do think that more North Americans make the adjustment than Seiyu-san gives them credit for. Players like Bunch, Gaillard, Gross, Hosey, Lopez, Mack, O'Malley, Powell, Rhodes, Rose, and Wilson (Canada). No, not all of the above players learned the language, but they all have been important figures on their teams - of which "fitting in" is an important aspect.

Thank you, Seiyu-san, for bring the discussion to a focal point.
Re: Americans in Japanese Baseball League
[ Author: Guest: Pamela Moore | Posted: Mar 5, 2002 3:35 AM ]

I have a son with the Hanshin Tigers, he joined the club this season, If I can be of any help, please write. His name is Trey Moore, LHP, starter. He was with the Braves AAA last season.
Re: Americans in Japanese Baseball League
[ Author: Guest: Gary Garland | Posted: Mar 5, 2002 7:17 PM ]

First, I want to answer Pamela Moore's question: I write the Japanese baseball column for Baseball Guru, which you can access at:

I figured when I started doing that column that parents and relatives of foreign players would be reading the site, so I make a conscious effort to give a little rundown on how the foreign players do in each game. I have since been, in fact, personally contacted by relatives of foreign players in Japan.

To answer specifically about Trey, he got in the other day and did very well, as did Mark Valdes. Senichi Hoshino, who I dislike immensely, ripped Moore and Valdes in the press for lack of hustle in infield drills a couple of weeks ago, but if he keeps pitching like he did yesterday Hoshino will probably cut him some slack.

Now on the adaptation by foreign players to life as a ballplayer in Japan, have you thought about arranging interviews with former players who have been there? For example, Jack Bloomfield is a scout with Colorado. Leron Lee is in the Cubs international scouting department. You might see if you can arrange a phone interview with those guys. Contacting higher profils ex-Japan players, though, such as Indians manager Chuck Manuel, Reds pitcher Elmer Dessens or Padres hurler Kevin Jarvis might be a harder nut to crack, though.

You should also see if your university library has any issues of the Sporting News or similar publications on microfiche or microfilm since I'm sure they have run occasional articles about MLB players experiences in Japan. The L.A. Times will do one once in a blue moon.

Generally, in college, a professor wants to see references to printed material or transcripts of interviews with primary sources and not just something like what glorified fans such as myself have to say.

Good luck. Your task is made rather difficult in that you can't read Japanese, so researching articles from Japanese sources is a non-starter for you.
[ Author: seiyu | Posted: Mar 6, 2002 3:14 AM ]

Dear Mrs. Moore,

I briefly mentioned Gene Bacque, the ace pitcher for the Hanshin Tigers in the 60s in my previous comment.

As I was reading his website, I got a feeling that he really enjoyed his time in Japan in the 60s. I think he would be the perfect person to contact if you need any help with Hanshin Tigers. He is no doubt one of the best pitcher (foreign or Japanese) in Tigers' history. He is a well respected man in the organization. I came across a homepage with his phone number:

I have a feeling that he will be more than happy to talk about baseball in Japan.

Re: Gene Bacque
[ Author: Guest: jack crouch | Posted: Sep 19, 2003 2:39 AM ]

As a former team mate [Idaho, Durham] of Gene, I would like to have his pitching stats with the Tigers.
Re: Gene Bacque
[ Author: Guest: Jim Albright | Posted: Sep 19, 2003 11:08 AM ]

Here's what I had in the article naming him as one of the best foreign born (from Japan, of course) NPB players:
P Gene Bacque - born 1937 Louisiana
1962-68 Hanshin Tigers, 1969 Buffaloes, no MLB experience
100-80 (W/L), 2.34 ERA, 1596.2 IP, 825 K
If you want more, contact me through the link at the bottom of this page [].

You'll need to be able to get and view jpg attachments at an e-mail address you will also need to give me if you want to take me up on this offer.

Jim Albright
Re: Gene Bacque
[ Author: Guest: Jim Albright | Posted: Sep 20, 2003 9:58 AM ]

It has come to my attention that the BaseballGuru e-mail may be out of commission. If you want more data, please contact me at (remove the asterisks (*)) ****.

Jim Albright
Re: Americans in Japanese Baseball League
[ Author: seiyu | Posted: Mar 6, 2002 12:58 AM ]

Dear Mrs. Moore,

Its great to see a mother of a ballplayer join in this discussion!!! I just have one advise to your son who will be living in Japan. There is no doubt that your son will be experiencing many new things both good and bad. He will be living in the Kansai (Osaka) area. Even a Japanese person like me who grew up in Tokyo will have a culture shock in Osaka. Osaka Hanshin Tigers is the Boston Red Sox of Japanese baseball as opposed to Tokyo Yomiuri Giants being the New York Yankees. Tigers have a traditional rivalry against Tokyo Yomiuri Giants since 1936. The bottom line is that Giants always win.

Like the Red Sox fan, Osaka fans are passionate, loyal, and knowledgeable fans. They can crucify a player if they don't like him, but they will love you hundred times back if he enjoys playing and embraces the town. For that reason, Tigers have had several outstanding American players over the years. Randy Bass is the most famous player who lead the Tigers to their first Japan championship in 50 years. There was also the beloved Mike Reinbach who played with hustle. Gene Bacque was an ace pitcher who lead the Tigers to 2 pennants in 1962 and 1964 was also loved by the fans. You may be able to contact him through his personal homepage at

(The email address is in the main page:

One common thing these 3 players had was that not only were they great players but they were great citizen of Osaka. The fans loved them. Living in a foreign country is a difficult experience, but if you are enthusiastic about exploring, learning, and embacing new culture with an open arm, he will no doubt be a better balanced individual and a player.

I have experienced the reverse of that by coming to the US when I was 17. It was very tough but a very rewarding experience. I think I'm a better person because of that.

So to Trey Moore and his family, play hard and enjoy living in Osaka. Go out and meet new people. Immerse yourself in Japanese culture. Hang in there and don't stuff yourself with Takoyaki and Okonomiyaki!!! (the 2 most famous Osaka cuisine). We are all rooting for your success!!!

[ Author: Guest: Michelle Bacque Wilson | Posted: May 30, 2003 6:27 AM ]

How wonderful it is to see people write such nice things about my father, Gene Bacque. He did love his time in Japan and stills gets this excitement in his eyes when he speaks of his time there. He has been fortunate to go back and play in the "old timers" games throughout the years since he left. I think he was the coach this past year.

Many years ago my parents, nephew and I went to see the film "Mr. Baseball." That's the one and only movie I actually saw my Dad attend at the theatre. I had to ask him if that's how things were. If the "Americans" were really like what was portrayed in the movie. Unfortuately, he said many were.

I am glad to know that he and my mother embraced their time there and learned as much as possible. Heck, they still speak Japanese when they don't want the "kids" to know what they are saying. Their "kids" are now into their 30's and 40's.

We (the family) left Japan when Dad retired in 1969 and I did not have the opportunity to really "know" Japan. One day I hope to visit.

From the way my parents speak of their time in Japan, I can only say, embrace the wonderful experience! It will be the time of your life.

Re: Bacque
[ Author: seiyu | Posted: Sep 23, 2003 4:06 AM ]

Dear Michelle, please give my best regards to your father. He is truely a legend in the history of the Hanshin Tigers. No boy who grew up in the 1960's in Japan would ever forget the duel between your dad (and Minoru Murayama) verses Sadaharu Oh and Shigeo Nagashima.

I have so many questions about your family when your dad was pitching for the Tigers. Did he socialize with any Japanese Tigers players at that time? How were your family treated by the Tiger's fan and the people of Kansai? Did the children of the players attend American school in the Kansai area (like the Canadian Academy in Kobe?) or were you living in the States? How did your family like the food there?

You should visit Japan this year, full of the Tiger fever. You will be treated like a royalty in Osaka!
Re: Bacque
[ Author: Guest: Michelle Bacque Wilson | Posted: Aug 15, 2004 1:18 PM ]

Please let me know your name so that I may pass along your kind regards to my father.

Re: Bacque
[ Author: seiyu | Posted: Sep 23, 2003 5:56 AM ]

FYI, here [Ueda Printing - Japanese] is a newspaper clip about Bacque's no hitter against the powerfull Giants with Oh and Nagashima. It's in Japanese, but still a nice pic.
Re: Bacque
[ Author: Guest: Mercedes Boles | Posted: Jan 12, 2004 5:41 PM ]

Dear Michelle,

Please give our regards to your parents. My husband, Carl Boles, played in Japan for six years with Kintetsu, and the Lions in Fukuoka. We visited quite often. You have wonderful parents, and both of them enjoyed, and respected the game, and the culture. Your mother was my mentor during the time Carl played in Osaka.

We'll always cherished their friendship.
Re: Bacque
[ Author: Guest: Carl Blunt | Posted: Aug 8, 2004 11:38 AM ]

Is this the Carl Boles that played one season with the San Francisco Giants? He was my hero while I was growing up in the city. We shared first names and our last names started with a "B." I would like to get some memorabilia of his. I have everyone else's signature on that 1962 Giants team.

I realize that Carl passed away fairly young. To add more irony, my daughter is named Mercedes.

Carl A. Blunt
Re: Bacque
[ Author: Guest: John Brooks | Posted: Aug 11, 2004 2:32 PM ]

- Is this the Carl Boles that played one season with the San Francisco Giants?

According to Gary Garland's web site it's the same Carl Boles that played with the Giants. [Link []
Carl Boles
[ Author: Guest: Eddie H Diaz | Posted: Dec 16, 2004 2:05 AM ]

Please confirm where you heard Mr. Boles passed away. He was working with me and just left the Giants' speakers bureau and moved to Tampa.
Re: Bacque
[ Author: Guest: Charlie | Posted: Oct 19, 2005 4:19 PM ]

Carl Boles is still alive, according to Baseball Almanac. I collect Giants game used jerseys, and I have his home jersey from 1962.
Re: Bacque
[ Author: Guest: michael harris | Posted: Oct 28, 2008 4:28 AM ]

[Old Thread Warning]

Carl Boles is my great uncle and I was looking for his old jerseys. Call me at 501-425-9318.
Carl Boles
[ Author: Guest: DAVID T. MIMS | Posted: May 15, 2005 8:08 AM ]

Hello Mercedes,

I, too, was shocked when I read that Carl had passed. Thankfully the person had the wrong information or the wrong person.

Hope you both are fine. I called Carl a couple of months ago, but he had to go and said that he would call back.

What's past is past. Enjoy yourselves in Tampa.

David T. Mims
dtdtm at hotmail d0t com
Re: Bacque
[ Author: Guest: Jackyankee | Posted: Apr 8, 2006 2:02 PM ]

Would this be the same Carl Boles who was the boys dean at De Anza High School in Richmond, Ca? A truly good man, and could swing the best paddle around. This would be around 1968-69.
Re: Americans in Japanese Baseball League
[ Author: rmtotty | Posted: May 29, 2002 3:40 AM ]

Mrs. Moore,

This is Matt. I went to school with Trey as you know. I am so glad that he is making it in the sport of baseball. Next time you talk to him, tell him good luck for me. Hopefully, he'll be able to come back and make a club over here again soon(preferably Texas or Houston). Congrats on having him as a son that is doing what he loves.
Re: Americans in Japanese Baseball League
[ Author: Guest: Pamela Moore | Posted: Jun 1, 2002 10:41 PM ]


Very good to hear from you, how's your family? Trey is enjoying every minute in Japan. The people of Japan have welcomed him with open arms. He has been very blessed. His Dad and I visited last month. Japan was wonderful, beautiful, clean and so very friendly. We traveled with the team to road games. We were able to go on many tours of the cities with Trey. Trey loves Japan, the people, the baseball. Not sure he will come back to the States to play ball. It's good to be wanted, and so for, the Hanshin Tigers, and their fans want Trey. He and his family are learning all they can about their new baseball home.

Matt, you and I know his heart will always be in the USA and Texas! Come see us,

The Moores
Re: Americans in Japanese Baseball League
[ Author: Guest: Ei | Posted: May 27, 2003 7:53 AM ]

Dear Mrs Moore,

It's nice to know you here.

I'm a Japanese girl who lives in the UK and a big fan of the Hanshin Tigers. I used to go to Koshien when I was in Osaka and watched Trey on the mound so many times. We know he is a great player and always want to see him in the "hero interview"!!!

The Hanshin Tigers are playing quite well in this season, and we believe that we will win the championship with him!!!

Good luck to Trey and the Tigers!!!
Re: Americans in Japanese Baseball League
[ Author: Guest | Posted: Oct 1, 2011 1:28 AM ]

[Reviving old thread.]

Do any Japanese baseball players in US speak English?

A sportsfan stated not a single Japanese US baseball player speaks English. Is this true?


Re: Americans in Japanese Baseball League
[ Author: DaClyde1 | Posted: Oct 6, 2011 9:57 PM | OBs Fan ]

They may not be fluent, but Ichiro and Hideki Matsui both speak English. Maybe not good enough that they want to give up their translators for interviews, but they don't need translators to communicate with their fellow players.
Re: Americans in Japanese Baseball League
[ Author: Guest: Marty Schaefer | Posted: May 4, 2002 5:43 PM ]

A quick note on the topic; Leron Lee is an excellent example of a professional athlete that adjusted well to the Japanese culture and enjoyed his experience playing professional baseball in Japan. Leron is a very good friend of mine, and he shares "great" stories of an outstanding country and outstanding people with his professional experience in Japan. Some excellent points were made previously and Leron will attest to the fact that there is an adjustment for Americans, and he was ready and willing to make that adjustment. In closing Leron has nothing but great things to share with his professional baseball tenure in Japan with the Lotte baseball team.
Re: Americans in Japanese Baseball League
[ Author: Guest: Bryan Bloomfield | Posted: Jul 31, 2003 8:36 AM ]

I was looking throught your site and saw you named my grandfather, Jack Bloomfield. If you need any info for your paper, let me know.
Re: Americans in Japanese Baseball League
[ Author: seiyu | Posted: Sep 23, 2003 3:35 AM ]

Wow, this page is becoming a popular site for the siblings of former legendary American NPB players!
Re: Americans in Japanese Baseball League
[ Author: seiyu | Posted: Sep 23, 2003 4:18 AM ]

Does your father still talk about the time he played in Japan? He was a great player, batting champ with 0.374 in 1962 for the Kintetsu Buffaloes, the team which Hideo Nomo played.
Re: Americans in Japanese Baseball League
[ Author: mijow | Posted: May 15, 2005 8:19 PM | HT Fan ]

- He was a great player, batting champ with 0.374 in 1962 for the Kintetsu Buffaloes, the team which Hideo Nomo played.

Although, of course, Nomo wasn't on the team in 1962.

This is a site about Pro Yakyu (Japanese Baseball), not about who the next player to go over to MLB is. It's a community of Pro Yakyu fans who have come together to share their knowledge and opinions with the world. It's a place to follow teams and individuals playing baseball in Japan (and Asia), and to learn about Japanese (and Asian) culture through baseball.

It is my sincere hope that once you learn a bit about what we're about here that you will join the community of contributors.

Michael Westbay
(aka westbaystars)

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