Reader Michael Kotler has noticed something really interesting going on in Japanese baseball. I’ll let him explain:
As we all know, MLB players can’t wear the number 42 (besides Mariano). But I’ve noticed that in Japan, a lot of foreign players wear 42. I looked into and it seems there are six foreigners wearing it: Marcus Gwyn of the Rakuten Golden Eagles; Marc Kroon of the Tokyo Giants; Tom Mastny of the Yokohama Baystars; Tony Blanco of the Chunichi Dragons; Brian Sweeney of the Nippon Ham Fighters; and Jonah Bayliss of the Seibu Lions.
Six players may not sound like much, but there are only 12 teams in Japan, and each team is only allowed to have four foreigners on its roster. So having one of the four players foreign players on half of the teams wearing 42 seems a little odd.
Is it just that most of these players wore 42 when they were young and wanted to continue it? Is it that they just want to wear 42 because they know they couldn’t back in the States (all except Blanco are American)? Is it that they all want to honor Jackie Robinson (which I think would be pretty cool)? Or is it just a ridiculous coincidence?
Good questions. One question that immediately came to mind was whether any of the six other Japanese teams had a Japanese player wearing No. 42. So I asked Kotler that, and he said and he promptly reported that four of the six have 42s on the roster: the Hanshin Tigers, Toyo Carp, Yakult Swallows, and Chiba Lotte Marines.
So the situation is this: Ten players in Japan wear No. 42, and six of them are non-Japanese players. Hmmmm. Mark in Shiga, Jeremy Brahm, and our other Japanese baseball experts, can any of you shed any light on this?
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