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You Gotta Have Wa

Robert Whiting's Homepage at

You Gotta Have Wa

by Bruce Keidan (May 31, 1989)

Digitized by Jessica Suchman and Catherine Nissley

I picked up "You Gotta Have Wa" because of the book's catchy title. Now I find I can't put it down.

It's by Robert Whiting. It's just out. MacMillan will part with it for $17.95.

"You Gotta Have Wa" examines the uneasy relationship between Japanese baseball and the American players it imports. Same game, different cultures. "Wa" is a Japanese that translates roughly to "team unity." Hiring an American, suggests Whiting, is the fastest way to fracture your wa.

It is much more common in Japan than here for a pitcher to throw at a batter's head. It is as much the batter's fault as the pitcher's if he is hit, the Japanese believe, since it is the batter's responsibility to get out of the way.

Americans look at things a bit differently. After being knocked down repeatedly by the Lotte Orions pitching staff, Tony Solaita of the Nippon Ham Fighters paid a call on the Lions' catcher during pregame batting practice. The catcher was Japanese, so Solaita was forced to converse with him through the interpreter assigned to him by his employers.

"Listen, you no good SOB," Solaita growled, "if you have a pitcher throw at my head again, I'll bleeping kill you!"

The interpreter did not turn a hair. "Mr. Solaita asks that you please not throw at his head anymore," he translated. "It makes his wife and children worry."

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