RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Throughout the baseball season you’ll see Takahito Matsuda working Flying Squirrels games in Richmond as an umpire in the Eastern League.
Matsuda has the same goals as the players on the field which is to make it to the major leagues. If he is able to do so he would become the first Japanese born umpire to make it.
“I think 10 umpires from Japan tried to become a major league umpire before me,” said Matsuda. “They didn’t make it.”
Currently in his third year assigned to the Eastern League, Matsuda first became a minor league umpire in 2012.
His previous stops include the Gulf Coast League, Appalachian League, South Atlantic League and the California League.
Matsuda cites learning a new language and culture as reasons the transition from Japan is difficult, so he spends most of his offseason living away from Japan.
“The last 8 years combined I’ve spent only less than one year in Japan,” said Matsuda.
Being the first MLB umpire from Japan is something Matsuda would embrace, but ultimately that is out of his control. His focus is on being the best umpire he can be.
“You have to work hard,” adds Matsuda. “You never know when openings will come up.”