Saturday, October 03, 2015

Don Robbs reflects

A recent visitor to Tokyo was old Japan hand and long-time Honolulu sportscaster Don Robbs. The 78-year-old radio voice of the University of Hawaii baseball games and other sports in the islands has been a frequent traveler to this country since he first came here in 1960 as a member of the U.S. Army.

The veteran mic man gave his thoughts about the changes in Japanese baseball since he saw his first Japanese game at Korakuen Stadium in 1961 and also talked about his own career, how he got into broadcasting and some of the personalities from Hawaii who later excelled in baseball and other sports in Japan.

Robbs came to Japan from Korea 55 years ago to work at the Far East Network (FEN) U.S. Forces radio station, then based at Camp Drake in Saitama Prefecture northwest of Tokyo. He recalled going to see the Yomiuri Giants play at Korakuen and recalls three things about being there: Shigeo Nagashima, the cheerleaders and the food.

“I remember watching Nagashima playing for the Giants and thinking he was the best third baseman I ever saw. Even then, I thought Japanese baseball was at a very high level and entertaining, and Nagashima could have played in the majors then,” Robbs said of the former Yomiuri superstar.

That was three years before Masanori Murakami became the first Japanese big leaguer when he joined the San Francisco Giants in 1964, and 34 years before Hideo Nomo debuted with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1995.

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