- Yu's grandfather was a travel agent in Iran and sent his son, Farsad, to the United States in 1977 to attend high school in Massachusetts.
- The son of Farsad, an Iranian father, and Ikuyo, a Japanese mother, Darvish was born and raised in Osaka, Japan. He has never lived outside his birth country, but he has traveled to Iran and the United States, where his parents met while studying at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida. He remembers his father pushing him toward soccer as a child, but he found something enchanting about the baseball games he saw on television. When he got his first Little League hit, he was hooked.
His lanky 6-foot-5-inch build and distinctive facial features would be enough to make him stand out anywhere, but in a homogenous land, a family name that sounded like none other gave him unwanted attention growing up.
“Kids used to say stuff all the time about how I was different,” Darvish said in Japanese, playing down the suggestion that wearing the national team uniform gave him extra satisfaction in light of such teasing. “It hasn’t been an issue since I was little.”
The Nippon Ham Fighters selected Darvish in the first round of the 2004 draft as a high schooler. By then, he was known across the country for having pitched a no-hitter in the spring version of a prestigious national high school baseball tournament that March. He earned a bad-boy image later for being suspended from high school for smoking a cigarette, illegal for minors here, and posing nude for a magazine in 2007. His devilish laughter at the mention of those incidents is a hint that rebelliousness still lurks within him.
But lost in the commotion over his defiance off the field and his vast natural athleticism on it is an astounding aptitude for pitching mechanics that those who know him describe with the highest admiration.
In 2005, Yu turned pro at age 18. His pro career got off to a rocky start when he was caught smoking in a pachinko parlor on an off day during his first spring training, despite not being old enough to legally smoke or gamble at the time.
After going 5-5 with a 3.53 ERA in his rookie season of 2005 with the Nippon Ham Fighters, Darvish had a breakout year in 2006, going 12-5 with a 2.89 ERA and 115 strikeouts. (Neither season is posted in his STATS, above.)
In 2006, Darvish earned the Japan Series MVP award in his first full season of pro ball—when he was just 19 years old. Yu won the clincher as the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters captured their first championship in 45 years.
In 2007, Yu won the Sawamura Award as Japan's top Major League pitcher.
In August 2007, Darvish acknowledged reports of a relationship with the Japanese actress, Saeko, in a post-game interview. He also announced that they were planning to get married, and that Saeko was pregnant with their first child. The couple married in November 2007, in what Japanese tabloids reported was a shotgun wedding.
They have two sons, but divorced in 2012. Coincidentally, Darvish's divorce was finalized on the same day that he officially signed with the Texas Rangers.
In August 2008, Yu pitched for Team Japan in the Beijing Olympics.
Then, he was a star for Japan's team in the World Baseball Classic. During the WBC there were rumors Darvish would post, making himself available to sign with a MLB team. But the posting price was rumored to be $10 million, which might be a little tough to come up with in economy-wracked clubs.
Before Darvish left Japan for Texas back in 2012, he told a reporter via an interpreter: "I don't need much motivation—I'm never satisfied until I win all the games and have an ERA of 0.00. I want to throw a faster fastball, I want a sharper curve. I want to improve all my pitches."
- In 2012, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Darvish as the #1 prospect in the Rangers organization.
While in 2012 spring training, Yu would bounce around from guy to guy, getting to know each teammate. He even learned some Spanish.
During seven seasons in Japan, Darvish achieved rock-star status. He has been in the spotlight so long that he doesn't appear to be the least bit bothered by it in the United States. His poise is apparent right away.
- In 2013, Darvish made a $25,000 donation to help support City of Dallas RBI, which allows nearly 2,000 youngsters to participate in organized youth baseball programs.
Darvish doesn't believe in the concept of the ace pitcher.
A team's best starting pitcher has the same task as the weakest link of the rotation—to allow fewer runs than the opposing pitcher while working deep into a game—and no one pitcher should be placed on a pedestal above the other four.
"All starting pitchers have the same goal, and it's a unit," Darvish said "I think all the starting pitchers have to support each other."
January 2015: Darvish has a new girlfriend. In November he tweeted to his 1.24 million followers that he was dating Seiko Yamamoto, a four-time world wrestling champion.
May 2015 brought a lawsuit in which Alex Witmer, a former personal assistant who was hired to care for Davish's three dogs, and three birds in Texas. Witmer claimed one of the dogs "jumped up" and bit him on the cheek and upper lip, sending him to the hospital. The lawsuit also alleged that Darvish's management company fired Witmer when he complained.
Two months later, Darvish tweeted that his son had been born. His longtime girlfriend, Seiko Yamamoto, won miltiple gold medals for Japan at the world wrestling championships. Yu said that the plan to wed soon.
Then, in October, the lawsuit with his personal assistant was settled. No terms were divulged, and neither side may comment.
Then, just a few weeks later, in October 2015: The 26-year-old younger brother of Texas Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish was arrested on suspicion of running a gambling ring for profit and gambling on baseball games, police said Tuesday.Sho Darvish allegedly took around 1,850 bets, each for 10,000 yen (about $90), on results and scores of 16 major league games and 28 Japanese professional baseball games held between May 12 and 18. -- via a phone ap.
Betting on baseball games is illegal in Japan. Depending on the report, he allegedly collected anywhere fro, $85,000 to $150,000.
January 19, 2016: Darvish said he is not and has never been involved in gambling activities amid a Major League Baseball investigation after the arrest of his younger brother in Japan. Darvish issued a statement through his agent that says he understands MLB must conduct an investigation.
"I am certain that they will find that I had no involvement in this matter whatsoever," Darvish said in the statement through his representatives at the Wasserman Media Group.
Sho Darvish was arrested in October in Japan for allegedly running an illegal gambling ring that reportedly took about 1,850 bets on MLB games as well as professional baseball games in Japan. The arrest came after an investigation of more than a year.
It was unclear if any bets were taken on games involving the Rangers. The Japan Times said Osaka police have not accused Yu Darvish of any wrongdoing. MLB spokesman Michael Teevan told the Japan Times in an email that the league is aware of situation and looking into it per standard protocols.
"I will not comment on this matter again out of respect for Major League Baseball's investigation and I am focused on preparing for the upcoming season," Yu Darvish said.In January 2016, Darvish was cleared of any involvement in his brother's alleged gambling activities.
August 24, 2016: Darvish hit his first major league home run. The exit velocity of Darvish's first career homer was 107 mph, according to Statcast™, and the estimated distance was 410 feet. It was the first home run by a Rangers pitcher since Bobby Witt against the Dodgers on June 30, 1997. That was the first home run ever by an American League pitcher in Interleague Play. (T.R. Sullivan - MLB.com)
Darvish is a huge star in Japan and has appeared on the cover of many of the country's magazines, including GQ. He was named GQ's "Man of the Year" in February 2012. (Kruth - MLB.com - 10/3/16)
2017: Darvish represented Japan in the World Baseball Classic.
After the 2011 season, the Nippon Ham Fighters posted Darvish. And on December 19, 2011, the Texas Rangers posted the winning bid of $51,703,411.
- January 18, 2012: Darvish signed with the Rangers for a six-year, $56 million contract.