Quality of play now on par with majors
In 2003, after 12 years as a minor league manager in the Yankees organization, and a brief stint as director of player development for the Rangers, Texas native Trey Hillman packed his bags and went East, becoming the manager of Sapporo's Nippon Ham Fighters.In 2006, Hillman's Fighters won a Japan Series title, defeating the Chunichi Dragons, four games to one. We talked to Hillman about the secret to his Japanese success. Here's what he had to say: I knew nothing. I studied as much as I could about the Japanese game before I came over. I scoured the Internet. I talked to players who had played over here. And I watched Tom Selleck in "Mr. Baseball" about 15 times, looking for little things that I might find when I arrived. I read a lot, and practiced saying Japanese names. I was used to saying American and Latino names, but it took some doing to get Japanese names to fit into my brain.
Is it different than the game in the West? Yes. Is it inferior? No.
--Trey Hillman on Japanese baseball
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