Baseball Historian and Award-Winning Writer
The Baseball Research Journal, the National Pastime, and Sports Collectors Digest
A former archaeologist with a Ph.D. from Brown University, Rob Fitts left academics behind to follow his passion – Japanese Baseball. An award-winning author and speaker, his articles have appeared in numerous magazines and websites, including Nine, the Baseball Research Journal, the National Pastime, Sports Collectors Digest, and on MLB.com.
He is the author of five books on Japanese baseball. His next book, Issei Baseball: The Story of the First Japanese American Ballplayers will be published by the University of Nebraska in 2020.
Fitts is the founder of SABR’s Asian Baseball Committee and recipient of the society’s 2013 Seymour Medal for Best Baseball Book of 2012; the 2019 McFarland-SABR Baseball Research Award; the 2012 Doug Pappas Award for best oral research presentation at the Annual Convention; and the 2006 Sporting News- SABR Research Award. He has also been a finalist for the Casey Award and a silver medalist at the Independent Publish Book Awards.
A popular speaker on the history of Japanese baseball, Fitts has spoken at many venues including the Library of Congress, the Japan Embassy in Washington DC, the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, the Japan Society of New York, the Asia Society of New York, the Nine Baseball Conference, the Society of American Baseball Research Annual Convention, and the American Club, Tokyo.
While living in Tokyo in 1993-94, Fitts began collecting Japanese Baseball cards. He is now recognized as one of the leading experts in the field and has created the e-business Robs Japanese Cards LLC. He regularly writes and speaks about the history of Japanese baseball cards.
President and CEO
NTT Research, Inc.
Mr. Gomi is the President and CEO of NTT Research, Inc., which is the global R&D arm of Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation (NTT). The organization was created in April 2019 in Palo Alto, CA, to conduct basic research in Physics & Informatics (quantum theory and its application to information processing), next-generation cryptography & information security, and medical & health informatics.
Before this position, he was a member of the Board of Directors for NTT Communications Corporation and led NTT America as its President and CEO for more than nine years from New York City. NTT America operates various IT infrastructure services including datacenter, global networking, cloud, voice solutions, security and various managed IT services.
Mr. Gomi has been an NTT employee for more than 30 years, engaged in R&D projects mainly related to Human-Machine Interactions, business development activities in Malaysia and the U.S., and Global Internet business operations. In September of 2009, Mr. Gomi was named to the Global Telecoms Business Power100, a list of the 100 most powerful and influential people in the telecoms industry.
Mr. Gomi received a Master of Science in Industrial Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (1992), and an M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Keio University in Tokyo (1985). He now lives in the Bay Area with his wife Lynda.
Mr. Gomi is a member of board of directors for US-Japan Council, which is a nonprofit educational organization led by Irene Hirano Inouye that contributes to strengthening U.S.-Japan relations.
Former Ambassador from Japan to the U.S., former Commissioner of Nippon Professional Baseball
Ambassador Ryozo Kato was the Ambassador of Japan to the United States of America from September 2001 to July 2008, and is the longest-serving Japanese Ambassador to the U.S. after W.W.II.
Ambassador Kato joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in April 1965 and held several positions in the Ministry such as Director of National Security Affairs Division in the North American Affairs Bureau, Director of Treaties Division in the Treaties Bureau, Deputy Director-General of North American Affairs Bureau, Director-General of Asian Affairs Bureau, Director-General of Foreign Policy Bureau and Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs. As for overseas assignments, Ambassador Kato served four times in the U.S., including his tenure as the Consul-General of Japan in San Francisco and the Ambassador in Washington, D.C. Ambassador Kato also served in Australia and in the Arab Republic of Egypt.
Ambassador Kato served as Commissioner of Nippon Professional Baseball from 2008-2013. Since June 2009 to June 2017, he was a Member of the Board of Mitsubishi Corporation, and is currently Advisor to Palace Hotel Tokyo and Special Advisor to Central Japan Railway Company. Ambassador Kato received B.A. from the University of Tokyo and LL.M from Yale Law School. He was bestowed upon with the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Sacred Treasure in recognition of his public service on May 2017. He is Japan Chair of CULCON since 2015.
Vice President, Community Outreach, Texas Rangers
Executive Director, Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation
Karin Morris was appointed Vice President, Community Outreach of the Texas Rangers in January 2011 and still retained the title of Executive Director of the Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation. As the Executive Director of the Foundation, she oversees the strategic development, fundraising, program development and fulfillment, and financials for the Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation.
Under her leadership, the Foundation constructed the $15 million Texas Rangers MLB Youth Academy at Mercy Street Sports Complex, presented by Toyota and has quadrupled its giving and funds raised. The Foundation was recognized as the 2018 Allan H. Selig Award winner for Philanthropic Excellence by Major League Baseball. Karin was recognized with the 2019 Texas Rangers Jim Sundberg Community Achievement Award, only the second non-player to ever receive the honor. The Rangers Foundation has also been recognized as a Champion of Youth by the Boys and Girls Clubs of Arlington and a Health Care Hero by the Fort Worth Business Press. As the Vice President of Community Outreach, Karin oversees the Texas Rangers outreach efforts. These include the efforts within the multi-cultural markets particularly the Hispanic and Asian communities. In addition, she oversees the club’s Academy operations, youth baseball programs including the camps and clinics and Texas Rangers Youth Ballpark. She also assists the team with Spanish-language needs.
Karin started with the Texas Rangers in 2003 as the Director of New Market Development after working with FOX Sports Southwest in Dallas for three years. Karin is involved in the community beyond the Rangers efforts and is a board member of the Travel and Sports Legacy Foundation, Arlington ISD Education Foundation, and volunteers at her sons’ schools. A graduate of Marquette University, Karin is married to Gary Morris and they have four children, Cameron, Chipper and Jackson and Jameson. She was also recognized as the Marquette University 2016 College of Business Administration Young Alumni of the Year.
Baseball Operations Staff at Chicago Cubs Baseball Club
former Professional Baseball Player in U.S. and Japan
Matt Murton attended Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta where he studied Business Management. He was a member of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets NCAA Division I college baseball team from 2001-2003.
In 2003, he was drafted in the Supplemental First Round, 32nd overall by the Boston Red Sox. He went on to play fourteen years professionally as an outfielder; both as a member of the MLB and the NPB for the Hanshin Tigers Baseball Club from 2010-2015. He led the Chicago Cubs with a .297 batting average during the 2006 season and participated in both the MLB and NPB playoffs. He was a seven time All-Star and four time Best Nine Award Winner, NPB. He led the Central League in hits on three different occasions and was the NPB Central Division Batting Title Winner in 2014. He was the first player in league history to reach 1,000 hits within his first six seasons as a member of the NPB. In 2010, he broke the NPB’s single season hit record with 214 hits, previously held by Ichiro Suzuki, and currently held by Shogo Akiyama, 216 hits.
After completing his playing career in 2017, he became a member of the Chicago Cubs front office and holds the title of Baseball Operations Assistant. He works with various non profit organizations within Japan as he looks to further strengthen the US-Japan relation by giving back to a community and culture that has so richly blessed his family. The establishment of his own non profit organization within Japan is expected to be completed in 2020.
President and CEO
Dallas Regional Chamber
former President of National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
In April 2014, he became President and CEO of the Dallas Regional Chamber, one of the largest and most established business organizations in the state of Texas, representing 1,100 member companies. The DRC works to strengthen the business community by attracting companies and talented workers from around the world, improving education, advocating for pro-growth public policies, and enhancing the quality of life for all in the Dallas Region.
Mr. Petroskey’s career also includes service as Assistant White House Press Secretary to President Ronald Reagan; Senior Vice President for Mission Programs at National Geographic; and President of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York.
Mr. Petroskey is a member of numerous Boards, including the Dallas Citizens Council, The Salvation Army of DFW, Dallas Medical Resources, Educate Dallas, SMU’s Lyle School of Engineering, The Alfalfa Club of Washington, D.C., the Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation, Clayton Kershaw’s Challenge, the National Medal of Honor Museum Host Committee, and the Dallas Mavericks Advisory Council.
Mr. Petroskey and his wife, Ann, both graduates of Michigan State University, live in Dallas and have three grown children.
Former Ambassador from the U.S. to Japan
Former President of the Texas Rangers Baseball Club
J. Thomas Schieffer is the founder and CEO of Envoy International LLC, a consulting firm that provides a wide range of advice to companies with international interests. He served as U.S. Ambassador to Japan from 2005-2009 and U.S. Ambassador to Australia from 2001-2005. Prior to his diplomatic service Ambassador Schieffer was a partner in the Texas Rangers baseball team. In 1989 he joined the partnership headed by George W. Bush and Rusty Rose that purchased the Texas Rangers Baseball Club. Originally just an investor, Schieffer was named partner-in-charge of Ballpark Development in 1990, President of the Club in 1990 and Co-Managing Partner with Rose in 1994 when George W. Bush assumed office as Governor of Texas. He was inducted into the Texas Rangers Baseball Hall of Fame on August 23, 2014 for his contributions to the franchise
At the age of 25, Ambassador Schieffer was elected to the Texas House of Representatives and served three terms. He remained active in Texas politics after leaving the Legislature. A lawyer by trade, Ambassador Schieffer has a long history of involvement in the oil and gas business.
A much decorated diplomat, Ambassador Schieffer has been recognized repeatedly for his leadership and organizational skills, particularly in the area of intelligence. In November 2013, he was presented with the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun by the Emperor of Japan to recognize his significant contributions in promoting friendly relations and understanding between the United States and Japan. He was also decorated by the government of Australia, the Secretary of Defense and five agencies of the U.S. government for his service.
Ambassador Schieffer attended the University of Texas, where he earned a B.A. in government, an M.A. in international relations, and studied law. He was admitted to the State Bar of Texas in 1979.
Dr. Hiroki Takeuchi (moderator)
Associate Professor, Tower Center for Political Studies, SMU
Director, Sun & Star Japan and East Asia Program
Hiroki Takeuchi is Associate Professor of Political Science, and Director of the Sun & Star Program on Japan and East Asia in the Tower Center, at Southern Methodist University (SMU). He received his B.A. of Economics from Keio University in Japan, his M.A. of Asian Studies from University of California at Berkeley, and his Ph.D. of Political Science from University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). Previously, he taught at UCLA as a faculty fellow of the Political Science Department and at Stanford University as a postdoctoral teaching fellow of the Public Policy Program.
Dr. Takeuchi’s research and teaching interests include Chinese and Japanese politics, comparative authoritarianism, and international relations and political economy of East Asia, as well as applying game theory to political science.
He is the author of Tax Reform in Rural China: Revenue, Resistance, and Authoritarian Rule (Cambridge University Press, 2014).