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Baseball and Japan / US relations

Discussion in 'MLB Discussion' started by Super Nomario, Apr 21, 2017.

  1. Super Nomario

    Super Nomario Member SoSH Member

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    I never post in this forum but I went to a lecture last night that I thought would be worth sharing. The talk was by Rice history professor Sayuri Guthrie-Shimizu. Among the items I learned that I didn't know:
    • Contrary to popular (or at least my) belief, baseball was not introduced to Japan during America's post-WWII occupation but as far back as 1872. After the end of Japan's isolationist policies in the mid-19th-century, there was a demand for Western educators. At the same time, there was a supply of Civil War veterans who found themselves lacking opportunities stateside. Among the earlier educators was Gorham, ME native Horace Wilson, who taught baseball to his students.
    • To aid the development of the game overseas, in the late 1800's Al Spalding sent free equipment to Japan for a full decade. In addition to equipment, he sent official rules, leading to a surprising synchronicity in game play internationally.
    • Among the earliest barnstorming teams to visit Japan were the Philadelphia Bobbies, an all-women's team that played (and beat) men's Japanese teams in 1925, and a Negro Leagues All-Star team in 1927. Major League teams didn't arrive until the 1930s when better stadiums / infrastructure was in place.
    • Alexander Cartwright, one of baseball's founding fathers, spent his twilight years in Hawaii and encouraged the growth of the game there.
    • Baseball was banned in Japan for a time before and during World War II, seen as American. And one of the first things done post-WWII was to reintroduce the game. Stateside, Japanese-Americans imprisoned in concentration camps formed baseball teams to demonstrate their loyalty to the USA.
    • While most American ballplayers were given relatively safe assignments in WWII, Japanese players were given no such preference, and many were killed in action. This led to a dearth in baseball talent in the country, and some Japanese-Americans reverse immigrated to fill the void.
    Professor Guthrie-Shimizu wrote a whole book on the subject. I haven't read it, but I imagine it's great reading if you're interested in further information:
     
  2. IHateDaveKerpen

    IHateDaveKerpen Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    Thanks for sharing this. I'm very interested in the history of Japanese baseball.

    Wally Yonamine was a boss.
     
  3. charlieoscar

    charlieoscar lurker

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    From Babe Ruth Central: The Site that Ruth Built

    Matsutara Shoriki, who owned the Yomiuri Shinbun newspaper, decided to see just how popular and successful baseball could be with the Japanese population, by organizing the biggest exhibition with professional American players yet. In 1934, Connie Mack, the long-time manager of the Philadelphia Athletics, was asked to staff a team of some of the best players in Major League Baseball and bring them to Japan for an 18-game match-up against the Big-Six University League. Mack compiled an amazing roster of some of the best baseball talent in America, while Shoriki did the same with the team comprised of Japanese talent from the “Big Six”.

    Besides the Babe, the Major League All-Stars team included: Eric McNair, Philadelphia Athletics; Charlie Gehringer, Detroit Tigers; Lou Gehrig, New York Yankees; Jimmie Foxx, Philadelphia Athletics; Earl Averill, Cleveland Indians; Bing Miller, Philadelphia Athletics; Moe Berg, Washington Nationals/Cleveland Indians; Frankie Hayes, Philadelphia Athletics (who replaced the injured Charlie Berry of the Philadelphia Athletics); Lefty Gomez, New York Yankees; Earl Whitehill, Washington Nationals; Clint Brown, Cleveland Indians; Joe Cascarella, Philadelphia Athletics; and, Harold “Rabbit” Warstler, Philadelphia Athletics.

    There is more at that link, including photos of Babe Ruth, his wife Claire and daughter Julia on that tour as well as recordings of interviews of Julia Ruth Stevens about her trip around the world with her father.
     
  4. edoug

    edoug Member SoSH Member

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    In bold is the most interesting name. Moe Berg wasn't your typical All Star.
     
  5. Super Nomario

    Super Nomario Member SoSH Member

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    Moe Berg came up in the lecture, too. He was working as a spy for the US government, taking pictures of some Japanese structures that would be used later in the Doolittle Raid during WWII.
     
  6. HriniakPosterChild

    HriniakPosterChild Well-Known Member Gold Supporter SoSH Member

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    I read it nearly 30 years ago, but I would also recommend You Gotta Have Wa.

     
  7. Jordu

    Jordu Well-Known Member Gold Supporter SoSH Member

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    From the same era, also recommended: Chrysanthemum and the Bat: Baseball Samurai Style.

     
  8. charlieoscar

    charlieoscar lurker

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    He supposedly spoke twelve languages and was a member of the OSS (forerunner of the CIA) during WWII.
     
  9. Lose Remerswaal

    Lose Remerswaal Leaves after the 8th inning Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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  10. Jordu

    Jordu Well-Known Member Gold Supporter SoSH Member

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    They were filming at Fenway on Wednesday.
     
  11. IHateDaveKerpen

    IHateDaveKerpen Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    This is the book that really got me into the whole thing. I loved it.
     

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