Nobby Ito (91’) shares his story, offers advice to current students
Tuesday, February 17 2015 12:00am
Nobby Ito, the first Japanese student in the history of the Ohio University Sports Administration program, returned to Athens on January 30-31 for the first time since graduating in 1991. His visit included lunch with current and former program directors Jim Kahler and Dr. Charles Higgins, a tour of Bob Wren Stadium and a discussion with Southern Ohio Copperheads General Managers Brent Miller and Andrew Szabo.
Ito, the current executive director of baseball operations for Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan, originally came to the United States in 1989 after working as a salesman in Japan. He traveled around the country looking for jobs that would satisfy his childhood dream: working in professional baseball.
Finally, in the spring of 1990, he would catch his break.
“I was 0 for 70 looking for jobs in America,” explained Ito. “However one day I was watching a baseball game in Cleveland and sat next to a current Sports Administration student. The next day I was on a bus to Athens because I knew this could be my way in the door.”
Ito met with then program director Dr. Charles Higgins and was eventually accepted into the program as a member of the class of 1991. According to Ito, it was Dr. Higgins’ unique style that played a major role in his success today.
“His style. His way of treating people. It was new to me,” said Ito. “He would always push you both professionally and personally.”
Ito’s story, filled with themes of persistence and determination, echoed in his advice to current MSA students as well.
“I always tell students three things: 1. Knock on the door. 2. Put your foot in the door. 3. Put your whole body in the room,” advised Ito. “Surprise people, make yourself known and pitch yourself.”
Ito also reiterated how important it is to be prepared for “the meeting”, as he was that day at the ballpark in Cleveland in 1990.
“The meeting could happen any day”, said Ito. “It could be about being in the right place at the right time. To be there, study and learn as much as you can.” b