You Gotta Have Wa, By Robert Whiting (Macmillan Publishing Co. Inc., 866 Third Ave., New York, NY 10022, (800) 257-5574 (except in New York), (212) 702-2000, hardcover, 339 pp., $17.95).
Baseball in Japan is just like baseball in the United States. It's played with a similar bat, similar ball, similar rules. So why is it, as one returning American ballplayer remarked, "a whole nother game"?
The answer, says Robert Whiting, is wa: the Japanese concept of unity or team spirit. And in his breezy, anecdotal book he takes a fascinating look at the American sport as adapted to a Japanese populace, pointing out the differences between the two cultures as exhibited on the baseball diamond.
Whiting depicts a country where discussions can make a half inning last 45 minutes, where tie games are welcomed as they allow both sides to save face, and where extreme discipline is expected of players. "Americans played ball. Japanese worked at it," commented an American who played for a season with the Tokyo Giants.
The Japanese fascination with besuboru is legendary. This delightful book dissects it, examines it and scores a home run for insight coupled with entertainment value.