One of the more
memorable confrontations between U.S. and Japanese values involved Dick Davis,
a former Milwaukee Brewer outfielder who replaced Money on the Buffaloes. Davis
did not mind the Kintetsu facilities, which were eventually renovated, nor his
housing arrangements. But he did mind Osamu Higashio, a cocky pitcher for the
Seibu Lions, who held the alltime Japanese record for hitting opposing batters:
152 in 17 years.
One balmy June
evening in 1986 at Seibu Lions Stadium, Davis took umbrage at an inside
Higashio fastball that hit his elbow. He rushed to the mound to deliver several
punches to the offending pitcher's head and face.
The sports press
in Japan swooped down on Davis like avenging warrior monks. UNFORGIVABLE, cried
one headline. Davis was hit with a 10-day suspension and a fine of 100,000 yen
($600) but remained steadfastly unrepentant. "If I have any regrets,"
he said, "it is that Higashio went on to finish the game. That means I
didn't hit him hard enough."
In spite of such
antics by American players, it is interesting to note that of the 274 people
ejected in Japanese ball since 1950, 227 have been Japanese. Most of them were
ejected for manhandling the umpires.
Indeed, one of
the worst incidents of violence ever seen on a baseball field took place in
September 1982, during a Taiyo Whales-Hanshin Tigers game in Yokohama. Two
Tiger coaches brutally beat up an umpire in full view of a nationwide
television audience. One of them even delivered a about that particular
evening. The dark side of the Japanese character is not a popular wicked kick
to the genital area that doubled over the hapless man in blue. Afterward, the
two coaches apologized profusely, pleaded temporary insanity and were suspended
for only the rest of the season.
But nobody in
Japan likes to talk topic for discussion in the media. Unruly gaijin make for
much more interesting copy.
pitcher turned popular author, once put it this way, "All in all, it's just
easier to pick on the gaijin. Because of the language barrier, they don't know
what you're saying. Besides, they go home at the end of the season, but we
Japanese have to live with each other."