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Play for a Japanese Team?

Baseball news from Japan and Asia

How can I play for a Japanese team?

Many years ago I got an e-mail from a minor league player in North America asking how he could play for a Japanese team. I have to admit, I was taken aback a bit. Don't players use agents for that sort of thing? I'm just a computer programmer who writes about Japanese baseball in his spare time. Why would he think I can do something that a professional agent spends a great deal of time and resources on? I have no contacts or influence on anyone in Pro Yakyu. Why would a player ask such a thing?

Well, over the last decade I'd gotten many more similar requests. I still don't know why players think that posting their resumes on a fan site will get them a job. And notices stating that such resumes will be rejected have not stopped players from posting them or asking.

Good Advice

Dan Latham used to have an excellent site about Japanese baseball up, but he's since moved on to other things and nothing remains of his site. However, he did have some good advice that I retained:

It's very difficult to get a job playing in Japan without connections. Some Japanese teams use part-time scouts in America to recommend players. Others will send a full-time scout to America for a few weeks in the summer to look for players for the following season. Neither system is particularly systematic. If the scouts have trouble locating players who fit the teams needs and who are willing to come to Japan, teams often use agents to find players.

In all lines of Japanese business, personal relationships are important. But they are difficult to establish with foreign players, who seldom stay with a team for more than a year or two. If an agent introduces good players to a team, however, the team will continue to use the agent to find more players. As a result, it is often difficult for players to get tryouts unless they have an agent who has experience dealing with Japanese teams. Although there are many player agencies in America, only a small handful have done much business in Japan.

Even with the best agents, however, it can still be difficult to find a job in Japan. Many players who can't get into Japan sign with Taiwanese teams, hoping to be noticed by Japanese scouts. If a foreign player doesn't work out with a Japanese team, they will send a scout to Taiwan to look for a replacement. [...]

What he's basically saying is the advice I've been giving people since that first question came to me, get an agent, preferrably one with experience in Japan.

But I don't have an agent.

Not having an agent doesn't mean that you have no options. In fact, I'm working on trying to bring agents and players together better than they are now. (I hope to have an agent registry up in the near future.)

In the mean time, Gary Garland of JapanBaseballDaily.com has more than just excellent advice for players. If you're really interested, please read this in full, then follow the instructions he gives. Do not read it part way and apply. You will get nowhere that way.

Until I get the agent registry up and running, this thread contains the contact information for a number of agents. Please use caution before giving out too much personal information, especially before meeting anyone face to face.

How can I work for a Japanese team?

Another set of questions has been from people looking to work with ball clubs as an interpreter or in some other capability.

To tell you the truth, I don't know how such jobs are landed. Most interpreter jobs seem to come from the parent companies of the ball clubs. It couldn't hurt to write to the ball clubs and ask what is available. Please see the team contact information page for where to write to.

Conclusion

The best way to land a job in Japan as a player it to get an agent. If you are an agent looking to send players over to Japan, it would be beneficial to all to put contact information under the agents thread until the agent registry project is completed. And those of you wishing to work of a Japanese company, the teams contact information page is the place to start.

Michael Westbay
(aka westbaystars)
Writer/System Administrator
JapaneseBaseball.com

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