Offseason Reading Program

It’s not just that the Hanshin Tigers season is all but over. It’s also that I need good reading material for on train and bus rides (my commute to work is almost 2 hours one way). So I have a decent stock of books to get me through until next spring, or at least I hope! Here is the breakdown with a few words about each.

akahoshiketsudanTitle: “Ketsudan” (Decision)

Author: Norihiro Akahoshi

As I have been working on player profiles the past 9 months to fulfill a promise I made to H-TEN Premium subscribers, I found this man’s story to be the most compelling… at least among those whose books I had not yet read. Much of my source material for Akahoshi’s profile came from the Wikipedia page, which apparently referred to this book and another he has written. Since I liked what I saw there, I decided to pick this one up.


dametoraTitle: “Dame Tora wo Kaeta!” (I Changed the Awful Tigers!)

Author: Katsuyoshi Nozaki

Reading through a different history book, this man’s name came up as one of the people who really tried to change the organization at a fundamental level. I hope to gain some insight into exactly what he did, and how he did it, so that I can change the awful Tigers in 2017.


kanemotojinseikaketeTitle: “Jinsei Kakete” (Put Your Life on the Line)

Author: Tomoaki Kanemoto

Since I read the first book he wrote and enjoyed hearing about how he ticks, I figured it would be appropriate to read the more recent of his two. While I have not enjoyed watching the Tigers in the latter half of 2016, I do want to understand the manager a bit better before jumping off the bandwagon. (That is the last of the Tigers books on tap.)


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATitle: “Hakkyu Taiheiyo wo Wataru” (White Ball Crosses the Pacific)

Author: Masaru Ikei

This will be the oldest baseball book I read – until I find something older! I’m not even sure when it was written, but I do know it was referenced – and recommended – in Robert Whiting’s “You Gotta Have Wa.” Hey, what’s good enough for Mr. Whiting is good enough for me.


nomurakangaeruTitle: “Kangaeru Yakyu” (Thinking Baseball)

Author: Katsuya Nomura

I am not a huge fan of the man, but I also recognize baseball genius when I see it. Perhaps the greatest catcher in the history of Japanese baseball, this guy has made it his personal mission to lambaste the Hanshin Tigers at any chance he gets. But he has also mentored great catchers like Atsuya Furuta and Akihiro Yano. I want to understand baseball better. I read “Throwback” by Jason Kendall, and his insights were pretty cool. I think I’m ready for a Japanese version of that book – but one that probably goes a lot deeper and is a lot more applicable to the way the Japanese game is thought about and played.


kuehnart1Title: “Bunburyodo, Nihon ni Nashi” (Where are the Scholar-Athletes?)

Author: Marty Kuehnert

This one is not necessarily specifically about baseball, but I am also an educator by trade, so the idea that someone would write a book about Japan’s inability to balance academics and athletics in its schools, intrigues me. I know all too well the poor balance that is struck between the two, but Mr. Kuehnert (former GM and current Senior Advisor of Rakuten Eagles, full time professor and Vice President of Sendai University) probably knows a few more things than I do on this subject.


kuehnart2Title: “Aisubeki Suketto tachi” (Best Gaikokujin Players – Then & Now)

Author: Marty Kuehnert

This one fits more with my baseball-themed titles… and is of particular intrigue because there are three former Tigers greats on the list: Gene Bacque, Randy Bass and Tom O’Malley. Basically, Kuehnert talks about the best foreign player at each position in both leagues, throughout history. I love me some great literature about all-time great players! (Wish I could read these in English, though!)


kuehnart3Title: “Suta- Senshu wa Naze Bo-mei Suruka” (Why Are the Stars Leaving?)

Author: Marty Kuehnert

Actually I had no intention of reading this one, except that I asked Mr. Kuehnert himself which books of his he recommended. This, along with the one above on education, were the two he said he was proudest of. Again, what’s good enough for well-established authors/figures in the sports world in Japan, is good enough for me!


So the question now is, which one do I read first? I got a few weeks before the season ends here to figure that out. But come October, if you see me in a train or bus without a book under my nose, you can come up and ask me what’s wrong!

– I also have two English books on tap – “The Arm” by Jeff Passan (half done, really fascinating) and “Out of My League” by Dick Hayhurst.

– The “Book Reviews” section of the website will get a slight revamp to indicate all the books I have, including those I have yet to read. Stay posted for that update.

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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.