Baseball is Japan’s most popular game. It has gained a huge following that many locals have forgotten that the said sport is not native to the country. The country has its own Japanese baseball team that competitively plays against other nations. A number of Japanese players were chosen by top Major League Baseball teams to play for them. The sport’s popularity in Japan has also fuelled some locals to actively bet on baseball to hugely profit.
Baseball became immensely popular in Japan because it was the first sport that focused on cooperative team play. Before baseball, sumo wrestling and kendo were the popular sport and did not allow for team play. At first, baseball was not widely accepted. Not until university teams started springing up and gave birth to rivalries.
Another major reason why baseball is well-loved by the Japanese people are the virtues associated with the sport – hard work, discipline, and teamwork. These characteristics strongly echo the Japanese culture.
The popularity of baseball in Japan began with post World War II. It was likewise fuelled by a series of exhibition games played with American baseball players like Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig, and Babe Ruth.
Roger Clemens actively played baseball for 24 years. During his career, Clemens accumulated a total of seven Cy Young Awards as the Best Pitcher of the Year in the American or National League. He threw 4,672 strikeouts. He was one of the starting pitchers to win a league MVP in 1986 after he posted a 24-4 record and a 2.48 ERA or earned run average. Clemens successfully achieved all these even his opponents were taking steroids. Whilst he was accused of taking steroids himself, his numbers are too hefty to ignore.
Honus Wagner is famous for the historic T206 card which sold for more than $3 million but this baseball player is more than that as he is regarded as the greatest shortstop of all time. Wagner is among the few players who boasts of more than 700 stolen bases. Whilst he never struck more than 10 home runs in a season, Wagner socked 643 doubles and 252 triples. The Flying Dutchman retired with an amazing .328 average even though he played during the dead-bell era of baseball. When he retired in 1917, Wagner had the second most hits (3,420) and runs batted in (1,732) in history of the Major League. His statistics still belongs to the top 25 of all time.
Stan Musial spent 22 illustrious years with St. Louis Cardinals and won seven batting titles. The lefty had 475 home runs and was able to tally the third-most doubles of 725. In 1948, Musial batted .376/.450/.702. Stan the Man is not only a good player but also an outstanding citizen. He led the Cardinals into three World Series titles and gaining MVP awards along. His highest single-season strikeout was 46 as a 41-year old. His hitting is often regarded, even by his opponents, as one for the most consistent in the league.
Lou Gehrig is one of baseball’s biggest losses. This amazing baseball player died at the age of 37 after battling amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), commonly called Lou Gehrig’s disease. Before he succumbed to this disease, Gehrig hit .295/.410/.523 with 29 home runs during his last full season. All in all, he played in 2,139 consecutive games. He posted .340/.447/.632 and 493 home runs. He also hit .361/.483/.731 in seven World Series, six of which were won by the Yankees.
Ty Cobb is known for his aggressiveness on the field. Whilst known for maximising injury to his opponents at any chance possible, Cobb is a talented player. He has a batting average of .366 and even led the American League by batting 12 times in a 24-year career. Over three seasons, he batted over .400. He still holds the record of 295 triples and stolen bases of 897. He never batted below .316 in 23 seasons he has played.
Also known as the Home Run King, Hank Aaron is undeniably a power hitter. He boasts of 755 career homers, a record he held for 33 years. Additionally, Aaron had 2,297 runs batted in and 6,856 total bases. His batting average of .305 had won him three Gold Gloves. He was also consistently selected to the All-Star Game for 21 consecutive years, hitting 30 home runs in 15 seasons. Of all the players with 534 or more long balls, Aaron is the only one with a below 10.0 strikeout percentage.
One of the best baseball players to ever stepped on the field is Ted Williams. Often called the greatest pure hitter, Williams has a .482 lifetime on-base percentage. The Splendid Splinter has a batting average of .400 and has led the AL in batting average six times, slugging percentage nine times, and on-base percentage during his 19-year career. Had he not served for the military, Williams could have easily topped 3,000 hits and 600 home runs. During his career, he never fell short of .315/.435/.550 rates. He is also the recipient of two Triple Crowns and six batting championships.
Barry Bonds is the one responsible for breaking Aaron’s home run by hitting a total of 73 home runs in 2001. Oftentimes, pitchers would walk him instead of making him hit a home run. He walked 2,558 times, 688 of which were intentional. During his career, he had all-time high 2,558 career walks and an impressive .444 lifetime on-base percentage and a total of 762 home runs. Bonds has eight Gold Gloves and seven MVP awards to his name.
Barry Bonds’ godfather is the top 2 baseball player of all time. Willie Mays has an astounding record at the plate by recording 3,283 hits, 660 home runs, and 1,903 runs batted in. His success on the field earned him 12 consecutive Gold Glove Awards from 1957 to 1968. As an all-around player, Mays is most widely known for his iconic over-the-shoulder catch at the warning track during the eighth inning of the tied 1954 World Series that caused the New York Giants to win the game and the championship. Whilst that particular win was Mays only title, his records speak for himself.
Babe Ruth is the best baseball player of all time. With his historic talent that transcended barriers, Ruth effectively changed the way people see baseball. Before he played on the field, home run record in a season was only 27. He doubled that number by hitting 59 in only seven years in the league. Babe Ruth was such a ruthless hitter slugging a .690 career slugging percentage. Aside from being a prolific hitter, Ruth also was an astounding pitcher with a 1.75 ERA in 1921 and pitching as much as 29 and two-thirds consecutive scoreless innings across two World Series. Many credit Babe Ruth for bringing baseball into new heights.