Anyone who has followed Matt Murton while he played for the Hanshin Tigers knows that the man is a Christian, and a vocal one at that. While his faith may not appeal to everyone, there are certainly people within the Christian community that root for him based solely on his beliefs. Contrarily, there are people who put up with his evangelical post-game interviews because he is such a fine hitter.
To my surprise as a 2-year fan of the club, there was a publication put out in 2010 – the year he broke the NPB record for most hits in a single season – called Murton’s Bible. Now, the term “Bible” is used in the titles of many publications, where it simply means “authoritative book” – and I thought this might be one of those instances. After all, the book (more accurately, a thick magazine) was published in Japanese, by Japanese and for Japanese – in a country where Christianity is practiced by less than 1% of the populace.
To my surprise, nearly the entire book talks about the driving force behind the man who took the league by storm in his first year. Murton talks openly about who God is and what He means to him. He also shares his favorite Bible verses, and there is even a message in there from the pastor of the church Matt attended when he was free on Sunday mornings in Kobe. (Incidentally, it is the same church where I got married.) As a Christian, I enjoyed reading about the spiritual side of my favorite (ex-) Hanshin Tigers player.
For those who do not care about religion or faith, the book also dedicates a healthy dosage of print to analyzing Matt’s hitting form, why he was able to break the record, how Ichiro (the record holder from 1996 to 2010) reacted to an American breaking the record. There is also a picture of every Murton hit for the entire season, including the opponent and the nature of the hit. They also include his stats for the year, including details that normally don’t get included in a stat line.
On the whole, I would have to say that someone who is repulsed by religion would probably not enjoy this publication, but people who want to really know who Matt Murton really is, including the most important thing in his life, will really enjoy this collectors’ item.