The Early Days of Baseball in Asia – Playmakerjournal


The Early Days of Baseball in Asia

Baseball Girl in Japan

"Baseball Girl in Japan," December 12, 1925

Japan Baseball

Japanese ambassador and Keio College team, 1928

Trans-Pacific shipping was kept busy in the 1920s ferrying American and Japanese baseball teams across the ocean for thousands of exhibition games. The Osaka Mainichi Baseball Club toured the United States in the spring of 1925, playing minor-league clubs and American college teams, including Chicago, Howard, Michigan, Notre Dame and Ohio State.

In August, the University of Chicago sent its team to Japan, with stops in Waseda, Neiji and Keio universities. (Stanford and Washington had a similar itinerary the following year.) In September, New York Times correspondent Thomas F. Millard reported from China that "the Shanghai Amateur Baseball Club, an American organization, has assigned to it for use in summer, as part of the public recreation ground of the International Settlement [a foreign-run entity of Westerners and Japanese that governed parts of the city] . . . a baseball field; but under the rule the American baseball Club cannot use the field to play Chinese teams, not admit Chinese in large numbers to witness the games. Japanese teams may play there, and a Korean team has also . . . We are in a way to make baseball the leading outdoor game in Asia; already it is spoken of as the 'national game of Japan' and it is equally popular in the Philippines."

However, not all American efforts to spread the baseball gospel were successful. On December 2, the Los Angles Times reported that the Philadelphia Bobbies, a team of teenage girls, had arrived in Victoria, British Columbia, following a financially disastrous tour of Japan. They were presently wards of the Canadian Pacific Railway Company and "had been rescued from want by a wealthy merchant of Hong Kong."