Posts filed under 'Game of Life'
Dear Friend in Baseball:
Lou Gehrig, Kenichi Zenimura, Babe Ruth
I’m writing to ask you a favor regarding our beloved national pastime. My good friend Kerry Yo Nakagawa has nominated Kenichi Zenimura (1900-1968) for the Buck O’Neil Lifetime Achievement Award of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Attached to this letter is a petition that must be delivered via hard-copy original—no emails, faxes or PDFs—in order to be counted. Also, would you print a few extras and pass them along to professional peers and personal friends?
As with so many aspects of our melting-pot history, American baseball has been shaped by immigrants and their immediate descendants. A glance at the roster of the upcoming All-Star Futures Game is but one proof of this influence.
Zenimura’s tireless efforts on both sides of the Pacific cleared the way for MLB athletes named Sasaki, Matsui, Nomo, Hasegawa, Okajima, Saito, Fukudome, Taguchi, Iguchi, Matsuzaka, Okajima, Shinjo and Iwamura. Not to mention the unique combination of an MLB manager named Wakamatsu and NPB manager named Valentine.
When Ted Williams was inaugurated into the Hall of Fame, he was gracious enough to endorse African-American ballplayers for Hall of Fame recognition:
“I’ve been a very lucky guy to have worn a baseball uniform, and I hope some day the names of Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson in some way can be added as a symbol of the great Negro players who are not here only because they weren’t given a chance.” (1966)
Buck O’Neill, Kerry Yo Nakagawa
More recently, Buck O’Neill offered the same opinion regarding our Nisei ballplayers:
“(Nisei baseball) is what America is all about. All men and women were created free and equal and (it) shows that when you make up your mind, you can be the best that you can be. Japanese Americans proved that they were the best that they could be.” (2001)
Help give Zenimura his proper place in baseball history by making sure the HOF Committee gets your endorsement no later than July 31, 2010.
Click here to print the petition
My heartfelt thanks for your support.
Anita Y. Tsuchiya — Writer, blogger, thinker
July 10th, 2010
August 03, 2009 — Looking back to April, our starting rotation appeared to be anchored with veteran free agents such as Brad Knox, Matt Palmer, Mike McDonald, Dan Denham. As a bonus, we had Anthony Ortega for a couple weeks, presumably until he could get into major-league shape.
Then Matt Palmer pitched himself into a starting slot for the Angels. Sean O’Sullivan arrived from Double-A Arkansas to fill out the starting rotation in Salt Lake, until he pitched his way to Los Angeles as well. The next pitcher called up to bolster our Triple-A rotation was Trevor Bell.
When the transaction-go-round starts spinning as fast as it has this season, it seems awfully quick to the trigger to select a ballplayer who’s only been at Triple-A for just one-and-a-half months. On the other hand, Bell has been as steady as they come, even when he hasn’t gotten the run support he deserves. So
Trevor Bell was selected by the Angels in the first round, 37th overall, a supplemental pick to compensate for the loss of free agent Troy Percival. His development from Rookie through Advanced-A was steady, albeit unspectacular, with ERA stats of 3.50, 4.14, 4.22, respectively. Bell made the Double-A roster out of spring training this year, and it seems as though something clicked. In 11 starts for Arkansas, he relinquished only 54 hits and just one homer in 68.2 IP for a 2.55 ERA.
Pitcher injuries among the Angels resulted in a mid-June spot start for O’Sullivan against San Francisco and subsequent promotion for Bell, who got his first Triple-A start against division-leading Colorado. And what a start it was; a two-hit, complete game shut-out. Since then, the 21-year-old has pitched like he’s been with us all season: 2.81 ERA, 52 H, 36 SO, 14 BB, 64.0 IP. Best of all has been his ability to go deep into the game, averaging 7.1 innings per start, with two 9-inning complete games. Bell doesn’t have a blazing fastball, and relies heavily on ground-ball outs. Mentally, he is one tough competitor. One of my favorite moments from this season was a five-pitch duel between Bell and major-league veteran Sal Fasano.
Much has been made of Bell’s off-season acting career, as well as his relation to the original Bozo the Clown. And while these are interesting media bytes, they aren’t nearly as intriguing as a couple of other extracurricular activities engaged in by the youngster from North Hollywood, CA.
At the start of the 2008 season, Bell joined Barry Zito’s “Strikeouts for Troops” campaign, in which he pledged to donate funds to the charity for every strikeout he made. Later that summer Bell was sent down to Single-A Cedar Rapids shortly after horrendous flooding had devastated the Kernels home city, along with several other Midwest cities along the Iowa and Cedar Rivers. During his short stay, Bell took a tour of the area and wrote a personal check for $2,500 towards rebuilding efforts.
What is noteworthy about these contributions is how uncommonly rare it is for low-level minor leaguers to be thinking of something other than their on-field performance. For yours truly, it’s yet another reason to cheer on our latest young gun…Your friend in baseball.
August 3rd, 2009
July 17, 2009 — A long time ago, (I shudder to think how long) an acquaintance of mine was having a bad week. We weren’t particularly close, at one point we’d been peers and competitors. She’d been on the bubble for a couple of seasons, trying to make the U.S. Team. It wasn’t easy for her. The competition was tough and she was pretty much on her own—working odd jobs in the offseason, sleeping on people’s couches, chatting up team coaches, looking for sponsorships.
Suddenly, she burst into tears, “I’m thinking I’m never going to make it. I’m wondering if I should just quit?”
I was caught off guard, and had to think over what she’d just said. I’d retired just the season prior. One of the hardest decisions of my adult life, . . .still. I had come to the point in my career when I needed to enter big money competitions in order to progress, as a legit athlete and marketable figure. I was a long, long shot. It would take luck as well as hard work if I was going to make any sort of mark beyond regional acclaim. The problem was, I simply didn’t have the funds. I managed to hold back the tears while I called my equipment sponsor. I thanked him for supporting me and told him to give away my slot. I hung up the phone, and sobbed.
I struggled to come up with something positive to say,”Hey. I’m sorry you’re having such a tough time. Um, geez, . . I can’t really tell you what to do.”
I mean, what could I tell her? We knew the odds. And I should point out, her talent exceeded my own by light years. I had no illusions about that reality. I was never good enough to be in her position. Perhaps even, it was still too fresh for me to be philosophical about my own loss. I’m sad to say I don’t remember being much help.
As time went on and I spent more time away from the field than on it, I came to find the words I’d been at a loss to provide in that crossroads moment. A message tempered by experience—mine, hers and dozens of young athletes over the years—and for me, a rather simple one.
Don’t ever quit because you’re afraid of failing. As much as it hurts to be told you’re not good enough, it’s nothing compared to the pain of wondering whether you might have been…Your friend in baseball.
July 17th, 2009