The visitor from Los Angeles arrived in Osaka a dozen years ago, as Yu Darvish pondered leaving home for Major League Baseball. Darvish was a senior in high school, but his talent induced a fleet of baseball lifers to board planes bound for Japan.
One of them represented the beating heart of the Dodgers, the progenitor of Blue Heaven. Darvish can still remember the day Tommy Lasorda came to his house.
So can Lasorda. He was invited by Acey Kohrogi, who ran the Dodgers’ scouting operation in Japan and pursued Darvish with dogged intent. The presence of Lasorda showed the organization’s commitment.
Lasorda lobbied Darvish’s Iranian father and Japanese mother to allow their...