By Robert Whiting, Warren Cromartie

At age 29, Warren Cromartie used to be an exceptional significant league ballplayer who'd installed 8 good years with the Montreal Expos. relocating to Japan was once the very last thing he had in brain while he verified the free-agent marketplace. but if the Tokyo Giants outbid the San Francisco Giants for his prone, Cro gulped-then went to paintings.

And paintings he did—under conditions few could think, via ordeals that demonstrated his international grit, with a stubbornness and a perseverance that sur- prised even him. without notice, in a script that he may were loopy to jot down himself, he stumbled on himself on top—a jap activities hero of the main not going style.

“Slugging It Out in Japan” is the impressive tale of a guy who did precisely what the identify says. He slugged the baseball, flirting with a .400 normal in his most sensible season. He slugged a glass, a surprise- ing breach of etiquette which just about prompted a rebellion. And he has slugged it out with the benign indifference of Japan, conserving court docket at the caliber of the sport, the standard of lifestyles, human relatives, racism, intercourse, undefined, even the tensions among the USA and Japan.

From his formative years in a black ghetto in Miami the place he first realized the sport, to his turbulent years with the Expos—where he shared heart degree with the likes of Andre Dawson, Tim Raines, Gary Carter, and Steve Rogers—to his arrival in Tokyo the place he used to be proclaimed a messiah, this can be the tale of Warren Cromartie's existence. he's outspoken, he holds not anything again, he goals to impress.

It can also be the tale of Cro's interracial marriage to a French-Canadian girl, his complicated dating together with his father, and his friendship with Tokyo Giants' supervisor Sadaharu Oh, the nice hitter who passed Hank Aaron's profession domestic run list. not just did Oh develop into Cromartie’s mentor—offering him helpful les- sons in batting—but the 2 males constructed a camaraderie (they have been either heroes, either outsiders in Japan). They develop into lasting friends—so a lot in order that Cro's 3rd baby bears the identify Cody Oh Cromartie.

But if Cro is quickly at hand it out, he additionally takes it. He earned his major keep—of that there's little doubt—but he needed to pay for its price. while it was once no longer adulation, it used to be humiliation, ridicule within the press, dis- crimination that used to be institutionalized, not to mention separa- tion from kin, loneliness, and isolation. nonetheless, out of this isolation, during this very diversified state Japan, Warren Cromartie discovered a spot the place he belonged.

Funny, offended, as blunt because it is pointed, and perception- ful whilst one least expects it, “Slugging It Out in Japan” is the human portrait of a guy grappling for identification and recognition, suffering continuously to discover his approach, bold to take the opportunity.

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Eventually, playing in Montreal meant something. Just being a Canadian in the big leagues was a rarity, let alone to play with a Canadian team. "I owe a lot to the Expos and the fans. The people were behind me there. I got a standing ovation on a double once. " Larry got only eight hits in 47 at-bats over 20 games in the final weeks of the 1989 season, but he was in the majors to stay. 241 with 19 home runs, 51 RBI and 21 stolen bases. That wasn't enough to be the best rookie on his team, as second baseman Delino DeShields finished second in the National League Rookie of the Year balloting to Atlanta's David Justice.

Page 34 Larry and Dante Bichette, left, were two-thirds of one of baseball's most powerful outfields in 1995. (AP/Wide World Photos) Page 35 Nobody was predicting an appearance in the playoffs, however. No expansion team in history had ever qualified for the postseason in such a short time. From the beginning of the year, the Rockies proved they were a legitimate playoff contender. They christened Coors Field with a dramatic 11-9 victory in 14 innings over the New York Mets on Dante Bichette's game-winning home run.

Day after day, I was shocking myself at the things I did," Larry said. "The numbers went up, and the balls went out of the park. I'd go home at night, or back to the hotel, and say to myself, 'well, I did that again? I can't believe that. '" Larry's 409 total bases were the most in a season in almost 50 years. He also finished second in Page 50 The Rockies gave Larry a watch and a Harley Davidson motorcycle after he won the National League MVP Award in 1997. (AP/Wide World Photos) Page 51 runs scored with 143, and in hits with 208.

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