EPS Review #36 - Slugging it out in Japan

by Warren Cromartie, Robert Whiting 1991

An impulse Ebay buy. I have no interest in organised sports, but I had heard of Whiting's You Gotta Have Wa, and decided that it might be fun to read about a black guy on the Tokyo Giants baseball team, run by Sadaharu Oh. It was. Cromartie gets out of the Miami slums, makes it to the major league in Montreal, marries a French-Canadian woman, then takes a chance on a stint in Japan to make money. His wife and children prefer to live in Miami. He hates the fanatical training, though he escapes some of it as a foreigner. He claims that Japanese teams overtrain and are generally too tired to play well. He hates the explicit racism (Oh, who is Chinese, suffers too).

But he stays on, and on, for a total of seven years or so. One year he bats over .400 and is a big hero, making $3million for a two-year contract. There are pictures of him punching a Dragon's pitcher (who had hit him with the ball), and a resulting banner from Dragon fans: "Mother-Fucking Kurou". The writing is easy, colloquial, and funny. He loves Roppongi (yuck!) and takes advantage of meeting rock stars to cut his own album (on drums), which does OK. His wife, hating Japan when she visits every summer, finally divorces him. I wondered what happened to him after he wrote this book, but you can always count on the web to answer such questions. Looks like he moved back to Miami.