Book Review – Hanshin Strategy as Seen by Scorers

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First of all, what is a “scorer” (スコアラー) anyways? Before picking up Hiroshi Miyake’s memoirs, I would not have thought of them as anything more than guys who keep track of each at bat in a game – tracing lines on a scoresheet to indicate which runners made it how far in every inning of every game.

Oh, how I was wrong. Miyake details every aspect of the job that he did meticulously for 25 years. What pitch was thrown? How fast was it? What was its location? Swung at or watched? What was the count? What pitch was thrown most in which counts? What pitch was thrown after pick-offs? All these things and more go into watching a baseball game from behind the backstop. Even after games, this data must be properly compiled and formatted so that players and coaches may benefit from it the very next game. Truly, scorers have a difficult and thankless job.

Through this book, Miyake shares his own personal history as well. He was actually a professional baseball player for awhile but was not able to get regular playing time. However, he had such a good head for the game that he shifted his energies to data analysis. Since his job is relatively new to the sport, it has evolved quickly during his career. He takes us through some of the changes as well as how different teams use slightly different systems to get the job done. He also shares his most memorable moments as a scorer, including how he was not able to properly witness the “big 3” home runs to dead center field in 1985.

Best of all, Miyake gives perhaps the best analysis of three key managers in Tigers history: Katsuya Nomura (whom he seems to respect but also have beefs with), Senichi Hoshino and Akinobu Okada. Each had a unique approach to the game, particularly towards the use of data when preparing game strategies. It was great to read about these men in this much detail, as players tend to get much more attention than the men at the helm.

There were times when it felt like Miyake was tooting his own horn a little too much (helping Randy Bass fix his swing, etc.) but I suppose he did play a part in shaping the game and the team. There is so much that goes on behind the scenes that we never even think about. Thanks to the meticulous work of Hiroshi Miyake, both as scorer and author, we Hanshin Tigers fans can grow in appreciation of all the hard work that goes into each pitch of every game – not just by the players in the spotlight, but by dozens of men behind home plate every night, one tick and dot at a time.

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T-Ray is the founder, chief writer and Junior Executive Vice President of Hanshin Tigers English News (H-TEN). Find him on Twitter @thehanshintiger.