When Japan fans hit the shit

After NBC Sports’ Craig Calcatarra published his side of the Tuffy Rhodes Hall of Fame story, Japanese language baseball site Full-Count responded with an article saying even the American media was mystified by Rhodes’ inability to be selected to Japan’s Baseball Hall of Fame.

This story, linked int Yahoo! Japan’s sports baseball news, has drawn a flood of comments, mostly from people pissed off with the Hall of Fame voters, who put Rhodes behind a number of players on the ballot with weaker credentials.

There’s an expression in Japan called “gai-atsu”. It means foreign pressure. Sometimes, when one wants to accomplish something or promote an agenda, voices shaming Japan from abroad is seen as useful leverage.

We recently marked the anniversary of the Great Hanshin Earthquake. At that time, 1995, every national network news program began its domestic coverage of the quake by showing how it was being covered by the BBC, or CBS, or NBC or CNN. That kind of paranoia about how the world views Japan is no longer an everyday facet of life, but the idea that Japan cares about its image abroad is still there.

What the fans said:

While Japan’s Hall drones on year after year without a whiff of the controversy or debate that Cooperstown provokes, the fans have shown some fire in this debate. Japanese baseball has been much of my life, but I got a little choked up reading the comments to the article.

I have abridged some of them. I wish I could reproduce them all here.


“When his team Kintetsu was being put of business and Japan’s players union went out on strike in 2004, Tuffy did his part. He was out engaging with the fans, signing autographs even though he wasn’t a member of the union. He belongs in the Hall of Fame on the merit of his stats, of course, but just as much because of how well he treated the fans.”

近鉄の球団身売り→球界初のストという一連の事態に於いても「何とか力になりたい」と選手会主催のサイン会に参加していた(日本の選手会に所属してないにもかかわらず)。 記録もそうだが、ファンを大切にしていた彼は殿堂にふさわしい。


“This goes for (Kintetsu Buffaloes teammate) Norihiro Nakamura. WHat kind of numbers would you have produced if you were even a bit more humble? But the fire you showed, and speaking the Kansai dialect, the Kintetsu colors were perfectly suited to you. You were one of the greats.”

中村ノリ共々、もう少し謙虚であったならどんな成績を残していたか。まぁ豪快な打棒と暴れっぷり、関西弁を喋るキャラは近鉄のカラーに合ってた。名選手の一人。


“The attention paid to Pacific League players is not as great as for those in the Central League, and it seems that they are not evaluated as highly either.”

主にパリーグに在籍していた選手は、セリーグのそれに比べ、注目度の低さが祟って、相対的に低めに評価される傾向があるようには感じる。


“Compared to Rhodes, people are forgetting his character compared to someone like Alex Ramirez, who is still working as a manager (in Japan). This is very unfortunate for such a wonderful person who paid so much respect to Japan.”

ラミレス監督の現役時代のチームへの貢献度やホームランはバレンティンを超える成績を残せたであろう選手。なんせ日本へ敬意を払ってくれていた素晴らしい選手だっただけに残念。


“The American baseball community pays its respect to Japan’s home run king Mr. Oh, and I think it’s only fitting that we have foreign players in our Hall of Fame.”

アメリカの野球界が日本のホームランキングの王さんに敬意を示しているわけですから、日本の野球も外国人選手の殿堂入りはあっても良いと思います


“Ichiro is going to make it to Cooperstown, and it seems Rhodes has done more than enough to be inducted in Japan’s Hall of Fame.”

イチローがアメリカで殿堂入りしそうなんだから、ローズの日本で殿堂入りも十分ありでしょ。


“Someone please explain Rhodes’ failure to be elected. It’s not just one year, but four. If Rhodes were Japanese I think I might be able to accept that. But if racial discrimination is involved in the process, then that should be stated clearly in writing. This is an embarrassment for Japan.


Are we still living in an atmosphere of national isolation (like Japan’s feudal era) ? People form other countries strived and contributed here for a long time. Isn’t that itself something special? It would not be any surprise if Greg “Boomer” Wells were in our Hall of Fame, too. I think it’s because these people are seen as imported labor.”

“Tuffy came back and contributed to (managed) and played in Japanese independent ball, so I would like to see him back in Japan even if it were as a coach for Orix. He is Mr. Buffalo.

未だに鎖国的雰囲気があるのか・・・・
異国の地で長く活躍するのがどれだけ大変な事か
ブーマー辺りも殿堂入りしても全然不思議ではないのに

助っ人だと思う。
また、独立リーグでのプレーもみたいし、コーチでオリックスに帰ってきてほしい。
ミスターバファローズ


Just to be certain. It wasn’t all sweetness and light.

“It’s because he’s hired help. Foreigners’ bodies are bigger.

助っ人だからな。日本人とは体格も違うし。

Jim Allen

sports editor for a wire service in Tokyo

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