The Unfulfilled Baseball Dreams of Masanori Murakami, the First Japanese Major Leaguer

2015 - University of Nebraska Press

In the spring of 1964, the Nankai Hawks of Japan's Pacific League sent 19-year-old Masanori Murakami to the Class A Fresno Giants to improve his skills. To nearly everybody’s surprise, Murakami, known as Mashi, dominated the American hitters. With the San Francisco Giants embattled in a close pennant race and desperate for a left-handed reliever, Masanori was called up to join the Big League club—becoming the first Japanese to play in the Major Leagues.

Featuring pinpoint control, a devastating curveball, and a friendly smile, Mashi became the Giants’ top lefty reliever and one of the team’s most popular players. Not surprisingly, the Giants offered him a contract for the 1965 season. Murakami signed, announcing that he would be thrilled to stay in San Francisco. There was just one problem – the Nankai Hawks still owned his contract.

The dispute over Murakami’s contract would ignite an international incident that ultimately prevented other Japanese from joining the Majors for 30 years. Mashi: The Unfulfilled Baseball Dreams of Masanori Murakami Japan’s First Major Leaguer is the story of an unlikely hero who gets caught up in a clash between American and Japanese baseball and is forced to choose between fulfilling his dreams in the United States or fulfilling his duty in Japan—a decision that he regrets to this day.

​"Rob Fitts has fabulously transported us back to Mashi’s family roots, childhood passion for the grand game and his trajectory to become the first major leaguer from Japan. It is a discovery and rediscovery of culture, baseball dynamics/politics and the man who transcended the sport as a gigantic touchstone ‘Pioneer’ for future players from Asia." 
Kerry Yo Nakagawa,  author, filmmaker, historian 

"Mashi Murakami's impact can still be felt in baseball stadiums on both sides of the Pacific. He is a pioneer in every sense of the word.....a true Ambassador for the game of baseball."

Allan H. "Bud" Selig, Commissioner of Major League Baseball)

"Robert Fitts has done it again, with an absorbing look at Japanese baseball."

Bob D'Angelo, Tampa Tribune


​​​Masanori Murakami autographed 5 1/2by 8 1/2 inch cabinet card 

$99.99 (plus postage)

​​​All 4of Rob's books

Mashi (hardback), Banzai Babe Ruth (paperback), Wally Yonamine (aperback) & Remembering Japanese Baseball (paperback)  

$79.99 (plus $9.99 postage)

​​​Masanori Murakami autographed baseball 

$64.99 ppd

​​​Mashi autographed by Masanori Murakami

$49.99 (plus postage)

Mashi Autographed Items

Mashi: Masanori Murakami Biography & Book Tour Kickstarter Campaign

Thanks to many wonderful people, we raised about $6300 through Kickstarter to bring Mashi to the United States this summer for our 10 city tour.
I would especially like to thank our supporters:

Ali Highsmith, Andrew Cutter, Ayumi Takita, Benjamin Zink. Beverly Fitts, Bob Lapides, Bob Sakai, Brandon, Brian Beebe, Cara Kuroda, Chris Davis, Chris Komai, chuck and soudi, Chuck Nan, Craig Meads, Daryl Higashi, Dave McNeely, David Block, David Dalcourt, David Goto, Dean Peterson, Deanna Rubin, Diane Muranaka, Dorothy Seymour Mills, Doug Inouye, Douglas Hall, Flying Carp Productions, Frank Holman, Fuji, G Muranaka, Gary Koscielny, Gerald Muranaka, J.G. Preston, Jacob Pomrenke, James Roosevelt, Jan Finkel, Jason Lyke, Jason Presley, Jim S., Joe Adriance, John Russo, John Scott Gray, Jon Leonoudakis, Juli Tachibana, Junichi Hiraiwa, Keith Kato, Kengo Yoshihara, Kenji Nimura, Kyle Krym, Lynn Miller, Mark Fujimoto, Marshall West, Masanori Max Ninomiya, Matthew Glidden, Michaela Watkins, Mo Smith, Naomi Hirahara, Nichelle, Paul Haig, Paul Margiott, Peter Schilling, Rick Huhn, Robert Klevens, Robert Umemoto, Scott Akasaki, Steve Steinberg, Steve West, Steven Ikeda, Susan Boiko, Thomas Zocco, Tom O'Doul, Victor Sloan, Walter Osaka, Yoichi Nagata.