Yu Darvish joining the Los Angeles Dodgers might make many fans in Orange County happy, but his relocation from the Texas Rangers will be particularly special to the Iranian community in Southern California.
Currently, Yu Darvish is impressing new fans at his debut Los Angeles Dodgers game. According to the LA Times, Yu Darvish played and won his very first game with the Dodgers on August 4 against the Mets in NYC. The blow against the Mets was devastating with the Dodgers winning 6-0.
Nevertheless, when Yu Darvish gets back to Los Angeles with the Dodgers, he might not be cheered at his next home game because he’s a great MLB player — but because he is Iranian.
As it appears, there may be a silver lining in Yu Darvish joining the Los Angeles Dodgers because it puts him in touch with the largest Iranian community outside of Iran — and Yu Darvish has an Iranian father.
Around July 31, Iranians in Los Angeles came out of the woodwork on Twitter to welcome Yu Darvish. For example, one Twitter user wrote, “Hate baseball but might have to get a Yu Darvish jersey to support the Persian homie.”
Other MLB fans outside of the Iranian community are also reacting to Yu Darvish’s Los Angeles Dodgers move. For example, on Twitter, a Dodgers fan joked on July 31, “Dodgers trying to reach that untapped Persian market in L.A. with the acquisition of Yu Darvish.”
In fact, according to a 2015 article by the NY Times, Yu Darvish’s new Los Angeles home is also the home of the largest diaspora of Iranians in the world. This community has longtime roots in Los Angeles but gained a significant population after the Iranian Revolution of 1979.
In April 2012, when Yu Darvish was added to the Texas Rangers from Nippon Ham in Japan, Iranians in America rejoiced, according to Dallas News. Mainly, it was because Yu Darvish was positively representing Iran in America in a new way.
At the time, Trita Parsi of the National Iranian American Foundation stated they hoped Yu Darvish’s move to America from Japan would offer “something that humanizes Iranians.”
Trita Parsi also said, “a lot of Iranian-Americans truly want… opportunities to introduce to the larger American public the Iranian people themselves, what they stand for, how similar they are and how much they can contribute.”
Since Yu Darvish was initially embraced by the Iranian-American community in 2012 when he moved to America to work with the Texas Rangers, he has stayed in the headlines and in social media as an important icon for that community.
Adding to this, Yu Darvish will have no problem having a double identity in Los Angeles around other Iranians because it was described by one community member as being a norm.
In a report on the large Iranian population in Los Angeles, BBC interviewed a young woman that stated she felt comfortable not having to choose between her Iranian or American identities.
Currently, Yu Darvish is one of the only Iranians in American sports, according to SB Nation. For example, outside of Yu Darvish playing with the Texas Rangers and Dodgers, there is only David Bakhtiari of the Green Bay Packers and New York Rangers’ Mika Zibanejad.
Regardless of the limited current roster of Iranians playing pro sports in America, Yu Darvish is not the first in his family to make this list. Farsad Darvish, Yu’s father, was a competitive motocross racer and played soccer when he went to college in America.
Despite his father’s Iranian nationality, it is unlikely that Yu Darvish will travel to Iran on a dual-citizenship passport. In interviews, Yu Darvish explains that he did not choose his Iranian citizenship because it would mean he could not participate for Japan in the World Baseball Classic.
Regardless of his lack of choice in choosing a dual citizenship, Yu Darvish is likely to be a hit in his new Los Angeles Dodgers home because of his personality and the impression it leaves on his fellow Iranians.
For example, when interviewed in 2012 about Yu Darvish’s joining the Texas Rangers, professor Kambiz Alavi stated Iranians generally see their cultural achievements as a point of pride, and Yu Darvish playing baseball in America would be a welcome jewel on that crown.
Kambiz Alavi also jokingly stated the following about his opinion on Yu Darvish outside of MLB baseball teams like the Texas Rangers or Los Angeles Dodgers.
“He’s tall. He’s handsome. He’s accomplished. Every Iranian wants to associate with him.”
[Feature Image by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images]