ANAHEIM, Calif. — One pleasant bonus of covering the Mets, Yankees and now the Red Sox for the last dozen years has been getting to know players and reporters from Japan, Korea and Taiwan.
Some of the best friends I’ve made on the beat are writers from other countries. Their dedication to the job is amazing, along with their knowledge of baseball. If your newspaper sends you halfway around the world to cover one player, you really must be good at what you do.
Hideki Matsui, who has a great sense of humor, is one the nicest guys in baseball and perhaps my favorite interview ever was with Ichiro Suzuki.
During my time in New York, I got to know Chien-Ming Wang very well and wrote his biography with two other Yankees beat writers, Sam Borden and Mark Feinsand. Our book — “Ace in America” — was published only in Asia and is in Chinese.
The latest interesting experience came this morning in the clubhouse. A reporter friend of mine asked me to join her conversation with Hideki Okajima. He was curious to know what Easter was all about.
So with my friend interpreting, I gave him the high points, how Jesus was crucified by the Romans, died and rose from the dead three days later. I explained that along with Christmas, Easter was one of the most important days of the year for Christians.
Okajima nodded. Then he asked how the Easter Bunny was involved.
I burst out laughing and explained that the Bunny had no connection to Jesus but was likely invented along the way to appeal to children. Okajima explained that he was born during the Year of the Rabbit, so he liked the Easter Bunny. He asked why a rabbit would bring children eggs and I had to admit I had no idea.
It was a fun conversation and certainly one of more memorable I’ve had on the job.
I’m glad the season ends before Christmas. I’d have a hard time explaining what Santa Claus and the elves were doing in the manger with the three wise men and Joseph.