Takeshi Hirabayashi

From BR Bullpen

Takeshi Hirabayashi was the first Asian umpire to make it to AAA in the USA.

Hirabayashi began his umpiring career in 1992 in the USA. After a short spell there, he returned to his native Japan and umpired in the Pacific League. He worked in Nippon Pro Baseball until 2003; he was the home plate umpire in Daisuke Matsuzaka's pro debut. Disillusioned with the lack of influence umpires had in Japan, Hirabayashi decided to give the US another shot.

Hirabayashi returned to the minors in 2005 with the Gulf Coast League. He was in the 2006 Northwest League and Midwest League and was the home plate umpire for the 2007 MWL All-Star Game. He spent half of 2007 in the California League. By 2009, he was a crew chief in the Southern League. He was called up to the International League that year when one of their umps got hurt.