New feature ... Bob's Bullets
Periodic musings from the best-selling author on Japan and elsewhere
CALIFORNIA — I spent a recent weekend in Seattle celebrating Ichiro's induction into the Mariners Hall of Fame. I gave three speeches. One at the RBI Club in T-Mobile Park at the Ellis Pavilion for season ticket holders. One at the Nisei Veterans Center and one at the Kinokuniya Book Store, the latter for Tokyo Junkie.
Also attended a dinner hosted by the Japanese Consul General Hisao Inagaki and his wife at the rustic Japanese Consulate along with Don Wakamatsu, Jim Colborn, Jerry and Charlotte Lee, Mona Lee Locke, Bob Simoenoe (who organized the whole weekend) and my wife Machiko Kondo.
Seattle is a beautiful city but its downtown sidewalks are occupied by crack addicts. Citizens with obvious mental health issues can be seen walking the streets, and there are many homeless encampments. The Mariners ballpark, however, is superb.
I watched three games: two from luxury suites high above the field and one from the first row next to the Mariners dugout, during which Robbie Ray pitched seven scoreless innings. Also attended a private party for Ichiro at reception hall T-Mobile Park where Howard Lincoln led a toast to Ichiro and his Seattle Mariners Hall of Fame induction. Said hello to Ichiro. Also had a nice talk with the Karate Kid/Cobra Kai actor Yuji Okamoto and his wife as well as Brad Lefton, the NYT writer on Japanese baseball.
Had several long chats with Colborn, former MLB pitcher who once won 20 games in a season, Orix coach and Mariners scout who helped bring Ichiro to Seattle. Jim helped me greatly researching the Meaning of Ichiro.
When Colborn heard about Lotte manager Tadahito Iguchi removing pitcher Roki Sasaki before the ninth inning after pitching 17 straight perfect innings, thereby depriving him of a chance at a second straight perfect game, his response was, “The real reason I would guess is perhaps that they did not want him to get a big head and become more difficult to deal with. It was a way of putting him in his place.”
Also had a talk with Wakamatsu, the former Seattle manager; he is now setting up a vineyard in Hood River, Oregon.
Former Mariners star Alvin Davis showed me a photo of Hideo Nomo whom he saw recently in L.A. Nomo was unrecognizable, overweight and graying. I was shocked. Then I looked in the mirror. I didn't recognize that person either.
The Museum at the Nisei Veterans Memorial Hall is something to behold. The 442nd Infantry Regiment invented the word courage, saving many lives of U.S. soldiers while sacrificing their own. A division of the 442nd was among the first of Allied forces to free Jews from the camps at Dachau. Many of those members of the 442nd found the liberation to be highly ironic given that Nisei in America were initially forced into internment camps when war with Japan broke out.
I took my wife to the Emergency Room at a hospital in Salinas, California, recently when she suddenly fell ill. She was in the ER for 5-6 hours and released in good shape. Weeks later the bill came due, in excess of $10,000, reduced to $126 after insurance. That's not a misprint. Getting follow up appointments with a doctor was a major time-consuming chore. Makes you appreciate the Japanese National Health Care system.
We return to Tokyo on Sept. 8, one day after PCR test requirements are lifted.
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