How do you say "Wonderboy" in Japanese? | Bleader

Friday, April 4, 2008

How do you say "Wonderboy" in Japanese?

Posted By on 04.04.08 at 06:21 PM

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When Kosuke Fukudome emerged from the dugout -- smiling bashfully at the media and shaking his head at the cold -- before the Cubs' home opener on Monday, the thing that distinguished him most from his teammates wasn't that he is the first Japanese Cub. It was that he carried a white bat. After they all dropped their equipment near the batting cage and went to stretch and warm up with a game of catch, Fukudome's white bat stood out amid all the black bats of his teammates, laid out like trout on the grass. Fukudome's Professional Edge (SSK) bat bore his name on the barrel and the once-cheesy slogan "Made in Japan," but it embodied how the connotations of that phrase have changed over the last 40 years. Compared with the black bats around it, it seemed to have a lethal quality, as it was white as can be -- white as Ahab's peg leg. It almost didn't appear to be made out of wood; rather, it seemed forged somehow, like Roy Hobbs' lightning-struck Wonderboy. And did Fukudome ever put it to use. Later that day, he lashed a double over the center fielder's head on the first pitch he saw in Major League Baseball, then tied the game in the ninth with a homer to center field off the Milwaukee Brewers' closer Eric Gagne (after working the count to 3-0, then looking at a fastball at 3-1, the same basic pitch he hit next). By the time he keyed the Cubs' game-tying rally with another double to left on Thursday -- a rally that would lead to the Cubs' first win of the season -- he was making the bat stick in the mind for another reason, for the way it practically recoiled out of his hands after a well-struck pitch as he ran to first base. I don't know what color bats Chicago Little Leaguers are going to be using this summer -- most likely they'll be brightly colored aluminum -- but I know Little League umpires are going to need to admonish hitters about tossing their bats. Every young baseball player in Chicago is going to try to mimic that flourish after crushing one.

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