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One must be fascinated by both the Japanese people and the game of baseball to really appreciate the joy of this book. In the nuances of the game, as played by two country's professional teams, Robert Whiting finds reflections of two very different cultures. The author is a long time resident of Japan and noted for his social criticism more than his baseball books which often focus on the struggles of American athletes to endure the culture shock of living and playing in Japan. Fairly arcane stuff but if the two seemingly disparite studies of a game and a society can be swallowed as a single broth, this is a marvelously insightful story. Never mind that it is quite dated (1977). The game and the society remain the same even if the ballplayers mentioned may now have adult children. Whiting still writes occasionally for both Sports Illustrated and the LATimes but this is my favorite of his stories and well worth finding. I would rate it five stars were it not so dependent on the rules of play and the styles employed by baseball players and managers.
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