A former archaeologist with a Ph.d. from Brown University, Rob Fitts left academics behind to follow his passion - Japanese Baseball. An award-winning author and speaker, his articles have appeared in numerous magazines and websites, including Nine, the Baseball Research Journal, the National Pastime, Sports Collectors Digest, and on MLB.com.
He is the author of five books on Japanese baseball: Issei Baseball: The Story of the First Japanese American Ballplayers (University of Nebraska in 2020); Mashi: The Unfulfilled Baseball Dreams of Masanori Murakami, the First Japanese Major Leaguer (University of Nebraska Press, 2015); Banzai Babe Ruth (University of Nebraska Press, 2012); Wally Yonamine: The Man Who Changed Japanese Baseball (University of Nebraska Press, 2008); and Remembering Japanese Baseball: An Oral History of the Game (Southern Illinois University Press, 2005).
Fitts is the founder of SABR’s Asian Baseball Committee and recipient of the society’s 2013 Seymour Medal for Best Baseball Book of 2012; the 2019 McFarland-SABR Baseball Research Award; the 2012 Doug Pappas Award for best oral research presentation at the Annual Convention; and the 2006 Sporting News- SABR Research Award. He has also been a finalist for the Casey Award and a silver medalist at the Independent Publish Book Awards.
A popular speaker on the history of Japanese baseball, Fitts has spoken at many venues including the Library of Congress, the Japan Embassy in Washington DC, the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, the Japan Society of New York, the Asia Society of New York, the Nine Baseball Conference, the Society of American Baseball Research Annual Convention, and the American Club, Tokyo.
While living in Tokyo in 1993-94, Fitts began collecting Japanese Baseball cards. He is now recognized as one of the leading experts in the field and has created the ebusiness Robs Japanese Cards LLC. He regularly writes and speaks about the history of Japanese baseball cards.
Japanese Baseball History
Japanese American Baseball
Pod Cast & Radio Interviews
Media Quotes & Inquiries
Issei Baseball is the story of the pioneers of Japanese American baseball- young men who barnstormed across the American Midwest in 1906 and 1911, breaking down racial stereotypes and bringing the two cultures together through the shared love of the game.
Mashi: The Unfulfilled Baseball Dreams of Masanori Murakami Japan’s First Major Leaguer is the story of an unlikely hero who gets caught up in a clash between American and Japanese baseball and is forced to choose between fulfilling his dreams in the U.S. or fulfilling his duty in Japan—a decision that he regrets to this day.
Banzai Babe Ruth
Banzai Babe Ruth is the story of the doomed attempt to reconcile the United States and Japan though the tour of Major League all stars in 1934 and the efforts of fanatical ultranationalists to drive the nations apart. The story contains international diplomacy, espionage, attempted murder and, of course, baseball.
Often called the Nisei Jackie Robinson, Wally Yonamine was the first ethnic Japanese to play professional football in the U.S. and the first American to play professional baseball in Japan after WW II. In both environments, the young Hawaiian had to adapt to unfamiliar cultures and overcome prejudice against his Japanese-American ancestry..
Remembering Japanese Baseball
Remembering Japanese Baseball is the first oral history of baseball in Japan published in English. It features the narratives of 25 men who played in Japan from 1948 to 1996. Through their stories, readers will understand the history of Japanese ball and see how the game changed over time.