As many of our readers probably already know, baseball is incredibly popular in Japan–in fact it sometimes seems as if Japanese folks love the sport more than people from the US. Japanese fans can be truly fanatical and they gladly follow everything from the local team to the major leagues, which makes it no wonder that so many Japanese players eventually make their way to the US.

Of course, it’s not uncommon to see players going the opposite direction across the Pacific, with MLB players coming to Japan to play professionally. One of the best example has to be Tuffy Rhodes, who played for the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox before moving to the Nihon Professional Baseball league in the mid-1990s. Tuffy recently became a bit of an Internet sensation thanks to his good will and kindness at sports games. The weird thing was that it wasn’t even a baseball game!


While it’s perfectly normal for baseball players to be fans of, say, basketball, there’s always something kind of weird about seeing a pro athlete at the “wrong” event. Spotting Ichiro catching a baseball game on a night off just seems logical–but it would just be bizarre spotting the perpetually stubbly slugger sitting in the stands at a Knicks game.

So, it’s somehow even weirder to see none other than the beloved ex-Nihon Professional Baseball player Tuffy Rhodes catching a signed basketball at a Houston Rockets game. But all that weirdness disappears in an instant when you see the kindness he was known for in Japan manifest in such a beautiful way. Immediately after snatching the signed basketball out of the air, Tuffy sat down, spotted a young boy sitting a few seats away, and without even hesitating handed the ball over.

Now, we don’t normally get too emotional about sports, but that was just one of the coolest things we’ve ever seen! And you can see it for yourself below.

If you’re not too familiar with Japanese baseball from the 1990s through the late 2000s, you might still be wondering just who this Tuffy Rhodes is. Though he did play for some MLB teams in the early 1990s, his real success was found in Japan, where he’s the top ranked foreign player in terms of homeruns–and tenth for all players. But he’s not just well-respected as a homerun hitter! In addition to an all-around good game, Tuffy spoke Japanese well enough to conduct interviews in the language and gladly engaged with fans and fellow teammates alike.


Though he’s been back in the US since 2009, Tuffy is still recognizable by many, both in Japan and the United States. While there’s no doubt that his status as a legendary homerun hitter originally helped put him in the public eye, it really seems like his general kindness is what kept us watching.

How about that, a celebrity who’s in the news for being a great guy! Someone pinch me, I think I’m dreaming!

Sources: Wikipedia English, Wikipedia Japanese, YouTube, AOL News Japan
Images: Wikipedia English, AOL News Japan