As a big fan of Japanese pro baseball (NPB – Nippon Professional Baseball), I’m often asked how one can get into Japanese baseball. And most importantly, something they can follow because they can’t read or speak Japanese.
I always recommend connecting with fans on the NPB Reddit site, where communication is primarily all in English.
But there is one source that has always done a great job of getting me the information that I need since the ’90s and that’s Wayne Graczyk’s “Japan Pro Baseball Fan Handbook & Media Guide”.
For anyone that is looking for an English publication on the NPB (Nippon Professional Baseball) or anything related to Japanese baseball. To be truthful, aside from the well-written English articles you would find on Japan Times and other Japanese newspapers in English about a game of that certain day, there really isn’t anything out there in print that goes into depth about Japanese baseball (fortunately, newspaper writers John E. Gibson and Jim Allen have a weekly audio podcast in English called “Japan Baseball Weekly”).
But one publication has continued to be a must-buy for NPB fans and that is Japan Pro Baseball Fan Handbook & Media Guide with data compiled by Wayne Graczyk. A guide book which has been ongoing since 1976.
Best known for his articles in the Japan Times writing for the column “Baseball Bullet-in“, a job he got thanks to correcting factual errors that he saw in an article on the Japan Times, rewrote it and submitted it to the editors of the Japanese newspaper in English publication.
Graczyk eventually became the sports editor at Tokyo Weekender until the company went bankrupt in 2004, but his articles are still featured in the Japan Times.
And if writing isn’t enough, Graczyk was also involved in television, as the play-by-play announcer for Yomiuri Giants games in English in 1982.
And that is just a little bit of contributions to providing Japanese baseball news and information, including interviews, which he has had an instrumental role and why generations of English speaking fans of NPB are grateful to Wayne Graczyk.
And for nearly 40-years, he has assembled the English version of the NPB media guide which includes team schedules, rosters, player bios and stadium information. You’ll also find tidbits of historical information included and also ads thanks to the support of the MLB (Major League Baseball) and restaurants in various areas.
And what is amazing is that this information is compiled by one man. He writes, researches, types the data, copy edits it and is even responsible for the ad sales. With the exception of the graphic design, the “Japan Pro Baseball Fan Handbook & Media Guide” has no doubt been a labor of love for Graczyk and has no doubt helped out thousands of overseas fans of Japanese baseball.
For those who see the cover, one will notice Bob Bavasi’s JapanBall.com (a wonderful website for overseas fans to read information on Japanese baseball but also purchase their tickets for game if they are traveling to Japan) featured in the front. That is because every September, Graczyk arranges the tickets for groups and also joins them for a few games.
Having purchased the “Japan Pro Baseball Fan Handbook & Media Guide” for various years, I wholeheartedly recommend checking out this wonderful baseball guide.
The guide has remained consistent by providing information of each team, their office address, telephone number, website and also information regarding the stadiums.
For each team, you get their team schedule, roster information (which includes HR, RBI, AVG. information, what is their throwing arm, their batting side, games played, salary, date of birth, height and weight. Also, included is a foreign player roster and you will also find a list of the batting, home run, R.B.I., pitching, E.R.A. leaders and M.V.P. Awards, trivia and more!
But part of what I loved about the media guide are factoids about each team, even though it was one factoid, it still was fun to read. Fortunately, you still get a few short articles featured towards the end of the guide.
But still, these recent guides are much better in the fact they are in full color. Back then, the majority of the pages were in black and white, while only a few ads were in color.
As a reader of both of Wayne Graczyk’s “Japan Pro Baseball Fan Handbook & Media Guide” and also the Japanese mooks such as the “Mainichi Shimbunsha – Suponichi Pro Yakyu Senshu Meikan” and the “Baseball Magazine Sha – Professional Yakyu Color Meikan”, you can’t help but admire Wayne Graczyk for what he is able to accomplish with compiling all this data.
Compared to the Japanese mooks, which probably have many journalists compiling data and writing about each player (the mooks feature about a paragraph of information of each player), a lot of the pertinent details found on the Japanese publications are found in Graczyk’s “Japan Pro Baseball Fan Handbook & Media Guide”. You may not get the solo profile of each player on a team, but still, the more important details are in the English guide.
Overall, if you are wanting to know more about Japanese baseball or a fan planning to travel to Japan and get information about upcoming games, I highly recommend Wayne Graczyk’s “Japan Pro Baseball Fan Handbook & Media Guide”.