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November 04, 2007

Japan Series Ends in a Perfect Game

I didn't hear much about this stateside: the deciding game of the Japan Series, the Japanese equivalent of the World Series, was won on a perfect game, with the Chunichi Dragons beating the Nippon Ham Fighters 1-0 to win the series 4 games to 1.

The manager of the Dragons was Hiromitsu Ochiai, who readers of Robert Whiting's books about Japanese baseball may recognize; he is a semi-mythic figure in Japanese baseball for refusing to (entirely) submit to the rigorous discipline imposed on players. The manager of the Ham Fighters, meanwhile, was an American named Trey Hillman, who is now coming back to the States to manage the Kansas City Royals.

Another interesting thing about the game was that Ochiai put in his closer in the ninth inning, after his starter had thrown eight perfect innings. I suspect this was the right thing to do from a managerial perspective, but it might be culturally impossible for a U.S. major league manager to do. Anyway he did it and it worked. I was looking for a list of perfect games in Japanese baseball; it's hard to search for now because of the one last week, but luckily Wikipedia came to the rescue again. There was one about every two years from 1950 to 1978, then just one in 1994 and the one this year. Don't know why; we need a Japanese Bill James to study it.

Somewhat randomly, I had been intermittently following the Series because a Kansas City Star sports columnist named Joe Posnanski was over there, presumably because of the hiring of Hillman by the Royals (which happened a few weeks ago). And I only read the Kansas City Star sports section because they cover Chiefs quarterback Damon Huard, former Washington Husky. Small world.

Posted by AdamBa at November 4, 2007 10:14 AM

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Are they really called the Ham Fighters? Yes, I know they are the Nippon Ham Fighters, but I always thought it was the Nippon-Ham Fighters, Nippon Ham being a trademark.

Posted by: marble chair at November 4, 2007 07:00 PM

Harrumph. Ask your wife, she will explain it.

- adam

Posted by: Adam Barr at November 4, 2007 11:06 PM