I’m giving away my copy of Banzai Babe Ruth, a great book from Robert K. Fitts that I reviewed a couple of months ago.

All you need to do to enter is leave a comment on this post below. I’d also appreciate if you’d follow us on Twitter @HighHeatStats and also “like” us on the Facebook widget below to the right, but neither is a necessity for you to enter. At some point I will close comments and use random.org to pick a random winning comment.

Meanwhile, I got the chance to ask Rob Fitts some questions, so here is my mini-interview:

Andy from High Heat Stas: “Banzai Babe Ruth” is your third book on baseball in Japan. What has drawn you to this topic?

Rob Fitts: It’s a really long story but here’s the short version.  In 1993 my wife was transferred to Tokyo.  I was working on my ph.d. so I could accompany her. We lived for there for two years.  I was a big American baseball fan when we went over there so I used my love of baseball to acclimate myself to Japan. I spend a couple afternoons each week scouring Tokyo’s flea markets looking for old Japanese baseball cards, went to games at night and even played on a company team.  The enthusiasm the Japanese showed for baseball was exciting. Remember this was 1993-4, right before the strike, American baseball was at an all-time low.  So during those two years I wanted to learn all I could about Japanese baseball.  This eventually lead me to do my own research and write the books.

Andy HHS: What was the biggest challenge you faced when researching “Banzai Babe Ruth”?

Rob Fitts: The language barrier- no question.  I can only read a little Japanese so I had to use interpreters and translators.  that was time consuming, expensive and some times frustrating, but I was lucky to find a bilingual research assistant who really helped.

Andy HHS: What have you learned about Japanese baseball that is helpful for understanding or assessing today’s NPB players appearing in MLB?

Rob Fitts: Most of the players who come over from Japan have the baseball skills to play in the Majors.  Their success is based on how they adapt to the United States both on the diamond and off.  The games are played a little differently.  MLB players are faster, stronger, and better hitters than the average  Japanese player.  Japanese pitchers must get used to facing good hitters throughout the lineup.  In Japan starters also usually pitch once a week.  In MLB that have to get used to pitching every 5 days.  But more important, the Japanese players have to adapt to their new surroundings. They have to get used to American culture, the food, the language, clubhouse culture, the media…  I think that might be the most difficult transition.

To enter the contest to win a copy of Rob’s great book, just leave a comment below. Or, you can buy your own copy directly right here.

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