The Mystery of the Hanshin Tigers

My original purpose for buying this book was that I thought it would provide me with good introduction fodder for my podcast. I took different clips from the book, paraphrased them, and reported that “Hanshin Tigers fans all around the world gathered to cheer for the team that…” followed by said quirky moment/player in team history. Made for a consistent, informative, and (I think) fun way to start every show.

Once the show reached a premature finish (only to be brought back for a few postseason specials), I figured I had little use for this book anymore. It sat on my shelf for a month or so, but then I figured its quick chapters (2-3 pages apiece) would make it easy to put down after a few minutes here and there.

Boy, was I wrong. It was not easy to put down at all. Because as I read it, I felt like I was having coffee (or a beer) with someone who had been behind the scenes at some of the team’s most important and defining moments. And each chapter touched on a piece of the team that you wished you had known all along. As I read through the anecdotes, I realized that I love this team not because I think they’re going to win it all every season, but because their history resembles our lives. Victories are few. Near-victories happen often, and are heartbreaking. Slumps are frequent and frustrating. But despite it all, you still have a deep appreciation for all the good things you have. And I was thinking… you can love a team in its present state, and know a team well from the time you fall in love with it… but isn’t it even more precious to get to know the years of vibrant life that the club had before it came into your life?

This book allows you to do just that: fall more deeply in love with the team because of its storied past. What did each of its championship season look like, and mean to the team and its fans? Who are some of the most famous players in team history, and how did they gain their notoriety? What were some of the big moments? What are some of the things that make following the Tigers a unique experience?

Yoshinori Karawatari knocks this one out of the park. If you can read Japanese and want to get to know the Tigers better in small bites, this is your book. Not too thick, not too heavy, but it will leave you even more intoxicated with the team than you were before you picked it up.

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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.

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