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Robert Whiting

Robert Whiting's Homepage at JapaneseBaseball.com

Names in the News: Author of 'The Chrysanthemum & the Bat'

by Asahi Evening News (Oct 15, 1977)

Digitized by Jessica Suchman and Catherine Nissley.

Japanese professional baseball is similar to "sumo" wrestling in the way they are played, says Robert Whiting, a former American sports writer.

"The pitcher and the batter glare at each other amid a highly tense situation in the same way sumo wrestlers are poised in the ring," explained Whiting who is now an owner of a company dealing in language textbooks.

Asked whether baseball is popular in Japan because it is similar to sumo, he said that American pitchers and batters also try to read each other's mind, but confessed that he did not know exactly why the game is so popular in Japan and the U.S.

As for Japanese baseball, Whiting, who wrote a book on the game entitled "The Chrysanthemum and the Bat," said that the managers, coaches and players engage in dialogue among themselves and like to form groups.

Whiting said that American businessmen, who do not know or like baseball, find his book useful as a reference source when they deal with their Japanese counterparts. His book, which was written during the time he wrote sports articles in New York City between 1973 and 1976, points out the exclusive stance taken by Japanese baseball against "gaijin" or foreign players and notes that teams rather than individual players are considered more important.

"Average Americans have little interest in Japan. Hence, I thought the best way to inform them of this country was to explain Japanese baseball," the 34-year-old American said.

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