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A wry smile played across Tom O’Malley’s lips as he nodded in the direction of a group of Hanshin Tigers players stretching on the ground outside of the Tokyo Yakult Swallows’ indoor facility on Sunday as the Swallows wrapped up practice inside.

Hands on hips, and wearing the uniform he starred in so many summers ago, O’Malley was somehow both effusive and reserved in his assessment of the Tigers’ pennant chances.

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