Sport and Corporate Nationalisms

By Michael L. Silk; David L. Andrews et al. | Go to book overview

11
From SBC Park to the Tokyo
Dome: Baseball and
(Inter)Nationalism

Jeremy W. Howell


Preface

In July 2001 I participated in a two-day professional meeting in Tokyo, Japan that focused on the possible development of a US/Japan-based executive educational program for sports management professionals within the Japanese sports industry. We were there at the invitation of Jack Sakazaki, one of the countries most prominent sports business leaders and owner of The JSM Group.1 As part of our visit, we attended a professional Japanese baseball game between the Nippon Ham Fighters and the Kintetsu Buffaloes at the Tokyo Dome. There, I found myself seated next to Jean Afterman, an associate of Sakazaki and exlegal counsel of Don Nomura, the sports agent representing many of the Japanese players who were currently playing in Major League Baseball (MLB).2

As one might imagine, this was an intriguing time to be discussing international sport management education while watching a baseball game in Japan, particularly as Ichiro Suzuki, the first Japanese-born position player to play in the Major Leagues, had just received 3,373,035 votes to become the top vote-getter award at the 2001 MLB All-Star game.3 Ichiro, as we now know, was to go on and win Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player (MVP) honors in the American League. As for the actual seventy-second Midsummer Classic All-Star game itself, it was played in Safeco Field, the home of Ichiro's Seattle Mariner's, a team owned by the Nintendo Corporation. Hailed by MLB Commissioner Bud Selig as “An International Celebration of Baseball”, the festivities highlighted the thirty nations represented in Minor and Major League Baseball.4

It was also the first ever MLB telecast widely distributed in High Digital Television (HDTV), the result of a unique partnership between MLB and Nippon Hoso Kyokai (NHK), the public broadcasting company of Japan. The

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