Surprise, AZ – Ranger fans without any knowledge of Japanese are proudly displaying Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish’s autograph, while ignoring all suggestions that Darvish is signing made-up Japanese characters.
“Yu Darvish’s autograph, baby!” said Rangers fan Tyler Roden, 22, high-fiving his brother Ryker after both obtained Darvish’s autograph on their programs. The brothers proudly displayed the signatures to onlookers, who pointed out that one signature contained twice as many characters as the other. The brothers were unconcerned: “That don’t matter nothing in Japanese!”
Darvish has been politely accommodating some fans’ request that he sign their biceps and calves. “Nope, not going to fall for that one,” said Tanner Holt, who had asked for a “power autograph” on his bicep in Sharpie. “Look there. You-Dar-Vish. Boom. I’ve played enough Japanese video games to read that.” Tanner displayed the autograph against a backdrop of two dozen members of the Japanese media howling with laughter in the nearby grass.
Darvish, a tall, handsome pitcher of Japanese-Iranian descent, seems eager to establish a good relationship with his new fan base. Madison Auger, 17, sheepishly asked Darvish if he would sign her baseball with his Japanese first name and his Iranian last name. “I want to study international relations at Texas A&M,” Auger explained needlessly while Darvish signed what looked to be a Christmas tree followed by five small scimitars in a row. “Oh my gosh it’s so intricate,” Madison gushed after receiving the ball.
The Rangers have high hopes for Darvish, having paid more than $100 million to bring the pitcher to the United States. A Rangers front office source said the team had a good feeling about the pitcher during negotiations. “We don’t employ anyone who speaks or reads Japanese, but we knew immediately he’d be a good fit. He kept cracking his lawyers and interpreters up,” said the source.
Through his interpreter, Darvish said he hopes to fit in with his teammates and “to do everything the contact which bears my signature asks of me.”