Friday, May 1, 2015

Interview with Robert Fitts and additional chances to win a book

This is a first for the blog - two interviews in one week!  This interview is with Robert Fitts, author of "Mashi" and other books on Japanese baseball.  He talks about Japanese baseball, his upcoming book tour and his own baseball experiences.  I thank him for taking the time to answer these questions.

I am also extending the chance to win a copy of the boxing book "Death In the Ring" by George Thomas Clark.  In addition to entering by leaving a comment on the reivew of that book or my interview with Mr. Clark, if you leave a comment here, you can enter to win as well.   If you do comment, but do not wish to enter the drawing for the book, please state so in your comment. Otherwise, enjoy and good luck!

Robert K. Fitts
Questions for Robert Fitts

1.  Why did you decide to write about Japanese baseball and its players?

In 1993 my wife was transferred to Tokyo and we lived there for two years.  The night I arrived in Japan, she took me to my first Japanese baseball game.  The atmosphere was unlike any game I had seen before.  The fans sang fight songs, blew horns, clapped in unison.   The stadium shook.  I fell in love with Japanese baseball that night. Later that year, I wrote a few dozen retired players to ask for their autographs.  To my surprise, these players not only signed but many wrote letters back and some sent me gifts.  How different from Major Leaguers!  I’ve been interested in the history of Japanese baseball ever since.

2.  “Mashi” took a little different approach to illustrating the struggles of a player who was a minority to fit in with his teammates.  Instead of telling about injustices, most of these anecdotes are humorous.  How were you able to approach a sensitive subject with so much humor?

That’s Mashi.  He has a great sense of humor—something every former teammate mentioned when I interviewed them.  He loved his time in the US and focused on the positive rather than difficult experiences.

3. Are you a fan of Japanese baseball?  What are your observations on the game in Japan and do you feel that the quality of play is close to that of Major League Baseball in the United States?

Major League baseball is more aggressive, faster and powerful than Japanese ball.  I feel that the American game in played at a higher level but that one should not dismiss Japanese baseball as inferior.  They produce many, many great players and watching their games can be a lot of fun.  I worry that with many of their stars coming to the US that baseball in Japan will no longer be able to maintain its high level.

4. Tell us about your baseball experience – whether as a player, a fan of a certain team or player, or if you just enjoy writing about it.

I played baseball—poorly – as a kid and for a company team when I lived in Japan.  For a while I was an avid softball player but now just play in a relaxed league.  I’ve been a baseball card collector since I was 10 and that led me to start selling Japanese baseball cards about 15 years ago.  To promote the cards, I started writing about the history of Japanese baseball but soon found that more interesting than selling cards, so I began focusing on writing about 10 years ago.  Mashi is my fourth book on Japanese baseball. 

5.  What future books can readers expect from you?  Do you have any work in progress currently?

I’m working on a story about the early days of Japanese-American baseball.  I’m studying a group of men who immigrated to Los Angeles around 1903 and formed a baseball team.  They barnstormed across the Midwest and hoped to become the first professional Japanese team on either side of the Pacific.  But, things didn’t work out.

6.  Feel free to add anything here that you would like readers to know.

This summer, Masanori Murakami is joining me for a 9city book tour.  We will stop in Chicago, Boston, New York, Rhinebeck NY, Cooperstown, LA, Fresno, San Francisco, and San Jose.  Information on these events will be posted on my web site  I hope everybody can come out to meet Mashi and have him sign your copy of the book

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