This is a follow up post to Monday’s that covered @mw2007.mel. Osamu “Herb” Wakabayashi -
1. Herb was a small, hard working, slick Japanese Canadian forward from BC, who was praised for his penalty killing abilities. Like Mel, Herb was born in an internment camp (Neys Camp 100).
2. As mentioned in Mel’s post, Herb was part of the “United Nations Line” with his brother and their Black friend, Eddie Wright, for the Chatham Maroons.
3. Eddie and Herb would later play together in college at @bostonterriershockey. When the PR representative for @bostonu remarked how difficult it would be to spell his name, the legendary Jack Kelley, who recruited Herb, responded, “Wait until you see Herbie play. You'll never forget how to spell it." Herb went on to score 145 points in three varsity seasons, which, at the time, was second best in Terrier history. As a sophomore, he set BU and @ecachockey records for assists in a season with 51, along with 16 goals. He then scored 43 points as a junior and 35 as a senior, earning All-American honors both seasons. He was inducted into the Beanpot Hall of Flame and was a co-holder of the record for most assists in one Beanpot tournament (6). Like his brother, Herb was a talented multi-sport college athlete and also starred in baseball for BU, hitting .367 as a senior and leading the Terriers to the ECAC regional finals.
4. After graduation, Herb moved to Japan. He joined the Seibu Tetsudo team in Tokyo, where he would enjoy a 16-year career. Herb became one of the best known and most popular players in Japan, though he had arrived in the country in 1969 unable to speak Japanese. Herb represented Team Japan in 3 Olympics (notching 9 points in 11 Olympic Games); he was also selected to carry the flag for the team in 1980 in Lake Placid.
5. After retiring from hockey, Herb became a director of @miuragolf, a manufacturer that handcrafts golf clubs in Japan. Herb, often serving as an interpreter, helped establish the company's Vancouver headquarters. He passed in 2015 after a valiant battle with cancer.
The Wakabayashis will go down in history as two of the greatest athletes who were the products of a dark time in U.S. history for Asians. They were embraced by fans and teammates for their tenacious and skilled play despite their lack of size.