New Blue Jay Winning Over Fans And Teammates Alike


Munenori Kawasaki on April 15. Image: james_in_to
Munenori Kawasaki on April 15. Image: james_in_to

This article was originally published on TKN on May 28 2013.

He dances, he gives funny interviews, he bows to his teammates and he loves to flash a smile – even when taking a pie to the face.

His name is Munenori Kawasaki, and he is the gregarious new shortstop for the Toronto Blue Jays baseball team.

Kawasaki was called up on April 13 to replace shortstop Joe Reyes, who had suffered an ankle injury.

Kawasaki is originally from Japan, and often carries around a Japanese-English phrasebook to help him communicate.

Last year, Kawasaki was on the Seattle Mariners (another Major League Baseball team), where he became known for doing funny dances to the music during games, squatting down between pitches, and playing with an overall unusual and fun style.

Despite starting this season in the minor leagues, Kawasaki has already become well known by teammates and fans for his quirky and outgoing style.

This is especially true after last Sunday’s game against the Baltimore Orioles, when not only did he continue his fun antics, but he made a major play as well. Kawasaki got hits three times out of the five times he was up to bat, including a game-winning hit in the ninth inning.

The Blue Jays were losing when 5-4 when Kawasaki made a big hit that allowed two of his teammates to score. The Blue Jays ended up winning the game 6-5.

After the game, Kawasaki gave a very excited interview in which he introduced himself and thanked his teammates. He told a reporter for Sportsnet, “Thank you very much! My name is Munenori Kawasaki! I am from Japan. I am Japaneeeeeese!” Then he brought out a Japanese-English phrasebook and read out, “My teammates give me an opportunity so I wanted to do something about it.”

The interview ended when three of his teammates jokingly threw a pie in his face and dumped a cooler of Gatorade on him, a traditional way some athletes have of celebrating a big win.

Even though his team is still struggling to win consistently, Kawasaki has certainly given the fans in Toronto something to cheer about.

UPDATE: Kawasaki is now a father; his wife recently gave birth to a baby boy. Read also about the “Kawasaki effect,” which the Globe and Mail newspaper says causes the Blue Jays to win a higher percentage of games, regardless of how well Kawasaki himself is playing–just for being on the team. Here’s the Blue Jays Journal blog article about Kawasaki.

Related link
Here’s how Wikipedia spells Munenori Kawasaki’s name in Japanese: 川﨑 宗則

By Kathleen Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
Some people might say that Kawasaki has “broken the mould” of a traditional baseball player. What do you think this expression means? Do you think it applies to Kawasaki – why or why not?

Reading Prompt: Extending Understanding
In order to communicate in English, Kawasaki uses a phrase book that translates Japanese words into English.

Have you ever tried to communicate with someone who spoke a different language than you? What did you do in order to get your message across?

Brainstorm a list of strategies you could use in order to communicate to someone who spoke a different language.

Extend understanding of texts by connecting the ideas in them to their own knowledge, experience, and insights, to other familiar texts, and to the world around them (OME, Reading: 1.6).

Extend understanding of texts, including increasingly complex or difficult texts, by connecting the ideas in them to their own knowledge, experience, and insights, to other familiar texts, and to the world around them (OME, Reading: 1.6).

Grammar Feature: Adjectives
Several adjectives are used to describe Kawasaki. Read the article and list those adjectives, then think of 5 more to add to the list.