Ichiro on Ichiro

Deciding I needed to do some light reading for awhile, I picked up my brother’s Christmas gift, Ichiro on Ichiro. As it turns out, I find light reading harder than my normal reading. Not sure why, but I’ve actually had a hard time finishing the book even though Ichiro (and Edgar Martinez and John Olerud) almost single handedly revived a long-dormant interest in baseball. On the other hand, perhaps it’s not too surprising I had a hard time reading the book since I watch sports to get outside my head, to avoid thinking.

Of all the baseball players I’ve followed in the recent past, Ichiro has certainly been the most fascinating, perhaps because at the same time I’ve grown increasingly interested in Taoism and Zen. Ichiro’s approach to the game is both fascinating and appealing.

The book is written in a question-answer style, with questions posed by Narumi Komatsu answered by Ichiro, both of which end up being translated by Philip Gabriel. Perhaps it’s the style that makes it difficult for me to really get caught up in the book, but, despite some interesting content, I found it difficult to stay with it. Here is one of the more interesting quotes I found, one that certainly applies to life in general and not just to baseball:

Once you started living in Seattle, did you feel any pressure from living in a foreign country?

I feel pressure because I can’t speak English. I have to be careful about all kinds of unexpected things. Because the mentality and way of doing things is so different. But even if that puts a little pressure on me, I also find it stimulating. It makes you feel alive. A monotonous life without any tension or excitement is something I’ll leave for later on in life. I’m prepared for all sorts of trials, but actually I’m finding it more fun than anything else. I want to experience all kinds of things-many different experiences.

Although I think Ichiro’s going to find out that old age, at least if my life is an indication, is not without tension or excitement, I like his whole approach to baseball and life.

It’s refreshing to find a player who treats his equipment with respect, who finds it important to sit and clean his glove after each game. Even more importantly, he seems to respect the game itself, respects both his teammates and his opponents. He’s a perfectionist who demands more of himself than he does anyone else, but he can still admire opponents who challenge his ability to meet those goals.

Unfortunately, I didn’t need to read the book to learn most of what was interesting in the book; I learned it simply by watching how Ichiro conducts himself on the field, the only place to learn what any player really believes.

Maybe I’ll save the book and give it to the first grandson or granddaughter who shows an interest in playing baseball. I’d love to see all of them emulate Ichiro.