March 8, 2007
Written by C.N.
As Spring Training gets into ‘full swing,’, you’re probably familiar with a few of the more notable Japanese players who have achieved some success in Major League Baseball, such as Hideo Nomo, Ichiro Suzuki, Hideki Matsui, etc. This year, several more Japanese players are set to join their ranks and with them, as the New York Times reports, are their interpreters who help to make their transition to America as smooth as possible, on and off the field:
As the internationalization of Major League Baseball continues and more Japanese players come here to play, teams have increasingly been hiring interpreters to help ease their transition. Unlike Latin American players, who can usually find teammates, coaches and club officials who speak Spanish, Japanese players rarely have that option.
In this evolving aspect of the game, the interpreters are becoming a more visible presence in the daily routines of numerous teams. General managers say they want the players who are acclimating to the United States to feel as comfortable as possible. Coaches say they want to know their instructions are being understood. And the players, who have achieved success in Japan and are expected to produce instantly here, want to express themselves, too. . . .
Some perform the tasks of a personal assistant, too. Cashman said that players who could not read or speak English needed help with routine tasks like acquiring a driver’s license, renting an apartment and opening a bank account. The Yankees give interpreters a job description, and it includes some off-the-field responsibilities.
“You can’t say you’re only going to help him within the confines of the stadium and then leave him alone,” said Roger Kahlon, who has interpreted for Yankees left fielder Hideki Matsui since 2003. As Cashman said: “It’s not just translating. It’s assimilating them into the new culture.”
I applaud teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, and Mariners, etc. who have accepted that it is in everyone’s interests to spend a little more money and have full-time interpreters to help their Japanese players play well and adjust well to their new surroundings.
Now just imagine how nice it would be and how much better America would operate if all immigrants — ordinary, everyday immigrants, not just superstar athletes — who needed this kind of help actually received it.
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Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "Japanese Interpreters in Baseball" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2007/03/japanese-interpreters-in-baseball/> ().
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