Playing the Field: The Legend of Munenori Kawasaki growing by the day

Munenori Kawasaki brings the "ha" to baseball. (Getty Images)
Munenori Kawasaki brings the “ha” to baseball. (Getty Images)

For years, Bob Uecker has made a living as baseball’s funny man. He hung around in the majors from 1962-67, with stints in Milwaukee, St. Louis, Philly and Atlanta. In his post playing career, Uecker was the baseball Dean of self-deprecation. He had 14 career home runs and 74 RBIs in the majors and was always quick to point out that the MLB superstar du jour had those numbers in a month. He’s still going strong today, at 78 years of age, making quips as the voice of the Milwaukee Brewers.

In a sport starving for more original entertainment, today, baseball needs a new Uecker to capture the imagination of a young baseball generation. Here’s the early favorite: Toronto shortstop Munenori Kawasaki.

Go to Kawasaki’s statistical information page and there is a dash, as in “-“, in the area that’s supposed to list his home run totals. Not to mention he’s wearing a Seattle Mariners uniform and the photo is cropped all wrong.

But on-field stats are not why Kawasaki is in the majors. He is a “clubhouse guy” through and through. Teams need comedians and Kawasaki just might lead the majors in laughs this season.

His back-to-back postgame press conferences on Sunday and Monday are gaining steam. He reads from the Holy Bible of American baseball cliché’s (literally a small yellow notebook with clichés scribbled down), obviously taking a jab at his conservative hardball brethren. He takes pies in the face like a champ. And he always, ALWAYS, has to let people know “I am Japanese.”

Here are Kawasaki’s memorable monologues from Sunday and Monday:

Follow Metro Boston sports editor and columnist Matt Burke on Twitter @BurkeMetroBOS


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