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Former Atlanta Braves slugger and the first American all-star to play in Japan during the prime of his career was Bob Horner His brief career was with the Yakult Swallows This was the inspiration for the first chapter of Robert Whitings celebrated book You Gotta Have Wa He was just 29 years old when he joined the Swallows Horners admission into Japan caused somewhat of a media stir Since he was given the jersey number 55 the Swallows owner hoped that he would hit that many home runs that season big things were anticipated of him Though Honah-san as referred to by the Japanese got off to a good start He was struck with a mid-season injury and missed several games This provoked the Japanese sports tabloids to react resentfully Horner was lazy Horner was faking it and Horner was milking an injury These were just some of the views In fact he was recovering as he saw fit However it may not have got him on the good side of the press but soon after his return he began to belt home run after home run Again he was the hero he was offered a contract extension at the end of his first season but decided to decline it The intense criticism from the media and the lack of privacy on and off the field were the major factors in his decision In his one season Horner led the team with 31 home runs and knocking in 73 RBIs and generating a 327 batting average There has been limited success for American players and managers in Japanese baseball for many reasons The reasons why they dont routinely succeed at their sport in another country may be because of culture shock or over assurance but it mainly revolves around the fact that their method of baseball wont make it in Japan Many American professional ball players have made the journey to Japan to play ball
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