Category Archives: Books

Back in Print: “Baseball is Just Baseball”: The Understated Ichiro

This little book, which I reviewed last year, is back in print, now with a new cover. I don’t think this would’ve happened if Ichiro had been traded to, say, Kansas City… Buy it here.

The Ichiro Library: The Meaning of Ichiro

The Meaning of Ichiro: The New Wave from Japan and the Transformation of Our National Pastime
By Robert Whiting
Grand Central Publishing, 2004

It’s been a few years since I’ve read this, but I recall it as being the best biographical work covering Ichiro’s life and career up through his first few seasons in Seattle. Author Robert Whiting looks at American baseball not only from Ichiro’s perspective, but also from his countrymen who’ve made the leap across the Pacific to the majors. It’s a fitting companion to Whiting’s 1989 classic You Gotta Have Wa, an excellent overview of the history and culture of Japanese baseball from the perspective of American expats playing there. A used copy can be yours for as little as one cent (plus shipping) on Amazon.

The Ichiro Library: “Baseball is Just Baseball”: The Understated Ichiro

“Baseball is Just Baseball”: The Understated Ichiro
An Unauthorized Collection Compiled by David Shields
TNI Books, 2001

This little paperback, a collection of 112 brief quotes culled from various interviews during Ichiro’s first few months with the M’s, takes about 15 minutes to read. It was published in August 2001, an apparent cash-in on the Ichiromania that swept the baseball world during his rookie year.

None of these quotes would rival any classic Yogi-isms or Stengelese, yet each one stands alone on its own page, an emphasis suggesting some sort of deeper wisdom or Zen-like quality. Rather, they’re mostly simple, sometimes vague answers to interviewers’ questions. Here’s a sample:

Asked which is the worst mascot, the Mariners Moose or the Orix BlueWave Neppie [the sea-creature mascot of his former team in Japan], Ichiro said, “I like them both.”, May 7, 2001

Perhaps this seemed novel in 2001, when American baseball fans were still getting to know Ichiro in his first season here. But, as author James Shields asks in his introduction, “Was I making too much of this?” I think the answer is yes.

Available at