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Ex-Cub Murton thrives in Japan

Matt Murton, 29, had a historic year during his first Japanese League season in 2010. Courtesy of Matt Murton

The day of Oct. 5, 2010, was a quiet one for the eventual World Series champion San Francisco Giants. They'd finished their regular season on Oct. 3 with a win over the San Diego Padres and were two days away from beginning the National League Division Series against the Atlanta Braves.

But over 5,000 miles away across the Pacific Ocean, 28,000 baseball fans stood inside Tokyo's Jingu Stadium, cheering and watching as they waited for the crowning of a new champion. Some fans waved signs of Japanese characters and English letters reading "Good Job!" and "Break the Japanese record!"; others held yellow and black (the Hanshin Tigers' team colors) noisemakers that they clapped together.

With two outs in the bottom of the second inning, the visiting Tigers had loaded the bases against the Yakult Swallows. The cheers and the claps, however, were for 29-year-old Tigers outfielder Matt Murton as he stepped to the plate.

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