Sixty years have passed since Roberto Barbon touched down in Japan for the first time in what he thought would be a two-year stepping stone on the way to playing baseball in the major leagues.

A native of Cuba, Barbon arrived in February 1955 to join the Hankyu Braves, the forerunners of the current Orix Buffaloes, for whom he still works. Barbon was Nippon Professional Baseball's first Latin player, a 21-year-old whose dream of playing in the big leagues was something his Japanese teammates could not share. His stay became a lifetime, during which the country's game became exposed to the world and young Japanese men now grow up sharing the dream of playing in the majors that brought him here in the first place.

"My father cut sugar cane," Barbon told Kyodo News earlier this month near his home in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture. "My brothers helped my father. I never worked in Cuba. I was lucky. During the week, I went to school. On Saturday and Sunday, I played baseball, only baseball."