Veteran Cardinals outfielder So Taguchi was at the same site where he played in the 2004 World Series, Boston's Fenway Park, but he wasn't wearing the familiar Birds on the Bat this time.
Instead, dressed in dark suit and tie and starched white shirt, Taguchi was seated with three other Japanese men in Fenway's broadcast booth. The four comprise the on-air team bringing the World Series back to the many baseball fans in Japan via the NHK television network.
Taguchi, a member of the 2006 defending world champion Cardinals and soon to be a free agent, is taking his initial turn in the booth. Turning age 38 during next season, So doesn't have many more years on the field, so perhaps his future remains in this aspect of the game.
Interestingly, prior to 2005, only one Japanese player, former Yankees pitcher Hideki Irabu, owned a World Series ring. Demonstrating the rate of change of the internationalization of Major League Baseball, 2007 will represent the third consecutive season in which a Japanese native can hold up the world championship trophy as his own.
In 2007, both of the World Series combatants sport Japanese players. Second baseman Kazuo Matsui is a member of the National League championship Colorado Rockies while the American League winners, the Boston Red Sox, have two Japanese "rookies", right-handed starting pitcher Daisuke Matzusaka and right-hander reliever Hideki Okajima.
Prior to Taguchi last season, then-Chicago White Sox second baseman Tadahito Iguchi earned a ring in 2005 to start the three-years-and-running streak.
For a graphical representation of the 22 Japanese pitchers and nine position players who have suited up in MLB since pitcher Masanori Murakami blazed the trail with the 1964 San Francisco Giants, click here.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com.
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