Roy White Recalls Memorable Years Playing for Yomiuri Giants
May 22, 2023
The following are excerpts from a wonderful article published on JAPAN Forward.
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Roy White Recalls Memorable Years Playing for Yomiuri Giants in New Autobiography
by Ed Odoven (special to Start Spreading the News)
Roy White personified class throughout his pro baseball career.
Following his distinguished 15 seasons with the New York Yankees (1965-79), White played the final three seasons of his career for the Yomiuri Giants, retiring in 1982 at age 38. In a new hardcover book released in April 2023, Roy White: From Compton to the Bronx (276 pages, Artemesia Publishing; also available as an ebook), the longtime outfielder's career is examined and placed in its proper context.
Former Yankees second baseman Willie Randolph summed up White's career this way: "He is universally respected in and out of the game because he is a quality person and was a great teammate and leader." Randolph added, "Roy White taught me how to be my best and to lead with quiet dignity ― what some might call 'class.' "
White's Move to Japan in 1980
White was limited to 81 games in 1979, his fewest in the majors since 1967. And after that turmoil-filled season (including the death of team captain and starting catcher Thurman Munson in a private plane crash), he found out he wasn't in the Yankees plans for 1980.
When one door closed, another opportunity presented itself to White: an enticing, two-year deal ($500,000 USD) to join the Yomiuri Giants. Upon his arrival in Japan in March 1980, White awaited a big introduction, even if sleep might've been at the top of his wish list. And a flight attendant told White he'd be the final passenger to exit the plane. A big throng of reporters was there to probe his mind about his thoughts on the upcoming season. "The most popular question I was asked in that press conference was, 'How many home runs will you hit?' " White recalled in the book. "I'd be asked that a lot in my years in Japan. I remember responding that I was a winning ballplayer." He went on: "I didn't want to get into predications like that, I wasn't even a home run hitter." That's true. Of White's 1,803 MLB hits, 160 were home runs. He had an MLB career-best 22 round-trippers in 1970. He also stole 233 bases and had a lifetime MLB average of .271.
Seven-time Pacific League batting champion Isao Harimoto played for the Central League's Giants from 1976-79, and White was given Harimoto's former jersey (No. 10). It was a big deal to White. "Isao Harimoto is a legend in Japan," said White of the only player with 3,000 career hits in NPB. "I learned quickly that number 10 was a great number to have."
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