Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish makes his debut on the mound for the Rangers tonight. The 25-year-old phenom has attracted Japanese media and fans. KERA’s BJ Austin reports.
Yu Darvish is the 25-year-old Japanese baseball superstar in a Texas Rangers uniform. Outside the ballpark, Kenji Tamura from Mexico City says he’s been a Darvish fan from the start. He says he and his friend booked airline tickets the minute Darvish’s Major League Baseball debut was announced.
Tamura: We know from his high school baseball. He’s very famous from the high school. After the announcement we decided to come to Dallas, Arlington.
Japanese media is also in Arlington, reporting on all things Darvish. Several hours before the game, Mugi Morijiri with Tokyo Broadcasting was working on a story about a gigantic Darvish burger being served at an Arlington restaurant. He says the face-off between Yu Darvish on the mound and Japanese star hitter Ichiro Suzuki at the plate for the Seattle Mainers doubles the drama of this game.
Morijiri: That’s also a huge deal. That’s why everyone in Japan is paying attention.
Decima Cooper with the Arlington Convention and Visitors Bureau says as many as 125 Japanese media representatives traveled to cover Darvish’s first start as a member of the Texas Rangers. She says the 6’5” pitching sensation is drawing a lot of attention to the team and Arlington.
Cooper: We’ve had about a 75 percent increase from Japan to Arlington.org, the website. And so, it’s definitely something that is bringing attention to Arlington, to our region, from Japan. So, it’s fantastic.
Yu Darvish has a lot of Texas fans, too, including Rachel Pinckard, Sam Salas and 12 year old Jared Adams, who wears a Darvish jersey.
Adams: I think he’s gonna be good for the Rangers. And I think he’s gonna do pretty good this year.
Pinckard: I know he’s going to help the Rangers out and I’m pretty pumped about it.
Salas: It’s exciting. I love reading about it. Anytime they mention his name, I listen. If it’s in the papers, I’m reading it. So, it’s exciting for the Rangers.