Montoursville’s O’Malley broadcasting at LLWS

IOANNIS PASHAKIS/ Sun-Gazette Tom O'Malley broadcasts on NewsRadio 1400 AM WRAK with Gary Chrisman and Ken Sawyer during the Southwest versus Southeast game in Lamade Stadium.

Playing a nine-year Major League Baseball career is as American as it can get. But Montoursville’s Tom O’Malley, currently acting as a color commentator during NewsRadio 1400 AM WRAK’s coverage of the Little League World Series, is secretly hoping for Japan to win.

An MLB retiree, O’Malley has spent 15 years of his life playing baseball in the major leagues, be it for the United States or Japan. Recently back in the states from Japan, he is offering his talents as a color commentator during the World Series.

O’Malley played for six teams during his major league career in the US before leaving for Japan in 1991 and playing another six years with the Japanese Central League. In total, O’Malley has spent 26 years in Japan, playing and coaching with various teams.

“I was with the Mets, I was playing the major leagues,” O’Malley said. “They came to my agent to see if I was interested. At that time, more guys were going at the end of their career but now guys are going at the beginning of their career.”

According to O’Malley, who played as third baseman with the Hanshin Tigers and the Yakult Swallows during his time as a player in Japan, Japanese baseball is just as much of a past time as it is in the U.S.

“It’s their number one sport by far. Sumo used to be second,” O’Malley said. “We sold out every game. They sold 37,000 tickets every game.”

The differences between Japanese and American baseball are relatively small says O’Malley but the difference in attitude between the two cultures has always surprised him.

“There are no prima donnas. You can tell them to run six miles and they’ll do it. You don’t see that here usually,” O’Malley said.

While in his first years with the Hanshin Tigers, O’Malley found acclimating to the culture and learning the language very difficult. While he still isn’t fluent in Japanese, he says as a coach he is fine when it comes to baseball and getting his point across. But as an American coming to Japan, O’Malley says their attitude towards learning the Japanese culture is what helped him through it.

“They really take to you. They don’t care if you’re good or bad. They just care If you try to adjust to their culture,” O’Malley said.

“We did a CD a long time ago and they wanted me to sing the Star-Spangled Banner and the Japanese fight song in Japanese and the other day I got an email from a record company that’s going to put it on Itunes and I can’t sing a lick,” he said. “They didn’t care. Just because I was trying to adjust to their culture. That’s the way they are.”

O’Malley has already met with the Japan regional champions at the Little League World Series and went out to dinner with them.

“We went to Ichiban and we were doing hitting lessons out in the parking lot,” he said. “When they are here I try to put a smile on their faces because they are out of their element.”

According to O’Malley, he would like to see an American team win, but deep down he is rooting for the Japanese.

“I love the people. It’s amazing how disciplined they are. They are so fundamentally sound,” O’Malley said.

O’Malley is currently the head softball coach at Loyalsock along with his work at the World Series and hopes to make it back to Japan as a manager.

“My goal is to maybe someday manage over there which would be great.”