Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Important History & The Super Future

So for the third straight night in a row I headed out to NYC for baseball related matters. However this time it wasn't to see a Staten Island Yankees game.

No, this time it was to attend an event where Robert K. Fitts was promoting his new book Mashi which is based on the legendary Masanori Murakami, the very first Japanese born player to play in the major leagues and was stopping by NYC as part of his tour. On this tour he was also accompanied by Murakami-san himself.

And OF COURSE I went to this event. After all, both Fitts and Murakami were doing book signings ;). As I was about to enter I quickly snatched up a copy of Mashi for roughly $32. Which means that for $32 I got a Masanori Murakami book, two Murakami autographs and a Fitts autograph. I don't know about you but to me that's a deal I'd make again and again.

The event lasted an hour or so. Most of it was a slideshow presentation mainly narrated by Fitts with some stories told by Murakami himself in English. This slideshow presentation taught me a lot of things about Murakami that I had never known before. Like how his father originally did not want Murakami to become a baseball player and become a doctor instead (his father had fought in WWII and knew how important doctors were to the world), that Murakami had been a hero to so many Japanese-Americans (especially on the west coast/California) and what the two other Japanese players the Nankai Hawks had sent to the US (along with Murakami) looked like. Seriously, up until that point I didn't know the other players' names, let alone knew what they looked like.

On a sidenote, fellow blogger NPB Card Guy was also in attendance at this event.

It was truly fascinating, so much so that I recorded a good 40 minutes of it on my iPhone lol. The gist of it came down to how Masanori Murakami was sort of like Munenori Kawasaki, before Munenori Kawasaki was Munenori Kawasaki. Although unlike Kawasaki, Murakami was pretty good at baseball as the way they described his success made me think a mixture of Koji Uehara and Takashi Saito at their best in one, oh and as a lefty.

After that Murakami had time to answer two questions from the crowd (I raised my hand but wasn't called) and the session ended.

Murakami (Right) and Fitts (Left)

Here Murakami and Fitts both started signing autographs for all of those in attendance who had just bought the book. I purposefully waited at the back of the line because I, selfishly, wanted time to take photographs with the two men and also have Murakami sign my 1965 Topps RC.

This is so cool :)

Once it was my turn I shook hands with both Fitts and Murakami. I expressed my gratitude to Fitts for organizing this whole event (he's a really nice guy) and asked Murakami to sign my card in Japanese (he's also a really nice guy).

It's Byotiful!

And sign it he did!

After I got a photograph of the three of us I said thanks one more time and then left the bookstore (yes, this whole thing was organized at a Barnes & Noble).

Now if I were a sane normal person I would've just gone to eat dinner at one of the many ramen shops in downtown NYC people keep telling me to go to, but I'm not a normal person. I knew that I had just enough time to go over to Staten Island and maybe snag an autograph from the players after the game had ended. Hey, I paid good money for the 2 hour train ride to come to the city. I'm going to take advantage of it for all it's worth!

In fact I sort of planned it like this and bought a burrito to serve as my dinner ahead of time and ate it on the ferry ride to Staten Island. And during that ferry ride the game in Staten Island also ended. The SI Yankees won 5-3 in the series finale against the State College Spikes. Perfect timing and perfect outcome :).

So once I made it to Staten Island I immediately ran to the garage hoping to meet some of the baby bombers. I did manage to see Yoel Espinal who recognized me and shook my hand (I had a photograph taken with him too), Domingo Acevedo (the gentle giant) and a few other SI Yankees. Unfortunately I couldn't identify any of the SIY relievers I needed, so I just got one autograph. But it was one heck of an autograph.

This is also byotiful

Yep. Those of you who saw my SI Yankees Opening Day post might've remembered how pretty awful the original autograph I got from Estrada on this superfractor was. So I decided to just go back and ask Thairo to sign this in black ink. And no, I did not remove the original signature, I left it on because I'm lazy and because I knew that the original signature wouldn't be that distracting since it can barely be seen. And I was right (for once), you can barely notice the old signature anymore.

As a way of expressing my gratitude, I gave Estrada the green-something refractor from Monday to him as a present. Hey, not like I was going to need it ;).

So all in all this was a truly fantastic day. I got a Masanori Murakami autograph (two of them actually) and an upgraded Thairo Estrada superfractor auto in the span of three hours. w00t!!!!

I haven't finished the Mashi book yet, but when I do I'll probably right a book report review on it and post it here.

And if you're curious to know if Fitts and Murakami might be headed to an area near you soon, here's a link to their events page where you can see what they have coming up. Who knows, you might get a chance to meet a truly important part of baseball history :).

As always thanks for stopping by and take care :).

2015 IP Auto Count: 38


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Mark :). I can't believe how awesome this is either.

  2. What a day!

    Today I watched Shallow Hal, Back to the Future, cleaned our two toilets, and signed my living will. You win.

    1. Well you were Mr. Mom and kept up your responsibilities. I'd say we broke even.

  3. Oh boy. The tour will be in California next week . . . and so will I! I wonder what my wife will think when I make the suggestion that we stop by the library for an hour or so.

  4. Very cool. I've been so excited about this book tour. Looking forward to meeting him when he arrives in San Jose next Saturday!

    1. I suspect that a ton of nisei and sansei from the San Jose area will be in attendance then. The sad truth is that he left more an impact on Japanese-Americans than Japanese people.