Sometimes books come to my attention through you, the reader. Someone in America sent me an e-mail a couple of months back, asking if I knew of any good books about Hanshin that were either in English, or were picture-heavy. I had no proper answer for him, but he then sent me a link to this book, asking if I thought it might be something he would enjoy. I then found that a copy of it could be mine at a reasonable price (used, but still in decent condition), and it made its way into my library the very next week.
Published at the end of 1985, it is one of the best ways to get to know the championship team and the amazing year it had. Nothing in here suggests it would be a one-year affair, or that the team would go through a “dark ages” (as the 1987-2001 seasons are referred to). This publication had no way of knowing that Randy Bass would be cruelly released during the 1988 season, or that Masayuki Kakefu would retire soon thereafter due to chronic injuries. And so it is a pure celebration of the team’s incredible roster and its run to the top.
Put briefly, this one is very picture-heavy. Shots of fans celebrating, the team jubilant in its victory. Full-page shots of every contributing player. Pictures of memorabilia that was available that season (obviously no longer available in 2017). Detailed boxscores and summaries of every Nippon Series game.
But the book also includes a black-and-white section dedicated to the club’s first 50 years of history, including a look at the previous two pennants, won in 1962 and 1964. It has a log of the team’s franchise and individual records, and concludes with the scoreboard from each of the team’s regular season games. A few sentences are also written about each game to give fans’ memories a jogging about how the season went down.
Overall, you really can’t go wrong with this book, even if you don’t read Japanese. The pictures and numbers tell the story by itself. And for those who were not in Japan in 1985, including myself, it truly paints a clear picture (worth a million words, really) of the greatest season in club history.