Time Machine: Kikuchi caved in to pressure, paid a price for it
This story originally appeared in the Japanese newspaper Yukan Fuji in 2009.
TOKYO — One of the big differences between baseball in Japan and baseball in the U.S. is that in the former 19-year-old high school pitching stars are the subject of intense, nationwide scrutiny, while in the U.S., they are virtually ignored. The only amateur baseball star to get mass media scrutiny that remotely came close to what left handed pitcher Yusei Kikuchi experienced was college ace Stephen Strasburg, whom we discussed in an earlier column this year.
One reason for this difference is that amateur baseball has simply never generated a popular following in the U.S. Unlike Japan which had a long history of high school, and college baseball, dating back to the mid-to-late 19th century — long before a Japanese professional baseball league was begun in 1935 — baseball in America started out as a professional sport from the 1870’s on and that is what people became accustomed to watching.
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