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You Gotta Have Wa

Robert Whiting's Homepage at

You Gotta Have Wa

by Bob Minzesheimer (Jun 30, 1989)

Digitized by Jessica Suchman and Catherine Nissley

New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner should consider trading teams rather than players. Perhaps the Yankees for the Hiroshima Carp and a few million yen.Steinbrenner would appreciate besuboru – where sore-armed pitchers are ordered to "pitch through the pain," and where one infielder proudly took 900 consecutive practice grounders before collapsing. Wa – team spirit and unity – always comes ahead of the individual.

You Gotta Have Wa (Macmillan, $17.95, 339 pages) by Robert Whiting is a study of the two cultures colliding on the baseball diamond. "This isn't baseball," complained former Los Angeles Dodger Reggie Smith after a season in Tokyo. "It only looks like it." Most gaijin (foreigners) imported from the USA seem self-centered to Japanese society, where, Whiting writes, the saying "'The Nail That Sticks Up Shall Be Hammered Down' is practically a national slogan."

The writing is less than graceful, but the research is impressive. Like the story of Shinichi Ishimaru, a 20-game winner who was a World War II kamikaze pilot. Ordered to attack a U.S. ship in 1944, he said, "I'll get in the plane after I throw 10 strikes." He did, then flew to his death. His glove and ball went to his family.

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