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Baseball's Introduction to Japan

Discussion in the Pro Yakyu History forum
Baseball's Introduction to Japan
Who introduced baseball to Japan?
Re: Baseball's Introduction to Japan
[ Author: Guest: David | Posted: Mar 28, 2004 7:52 AM ]

I was always under the impression that American soldiers stationed in Japan after World War II introduced the game. Anyone know for certain?
Re: Baseball's Introduction to Japan
[ Author: westbaystars | Posted: Mar 30, 2004 12:00 AM | YBS Fan ]

If you look at the Giants' logo this year you will see that it has a big "70" under the Gabbit (Giants' + rabbit). That "70" stands for 70 years as a professional baseball team. The summer Koshien high school tournament is is even older.

Please read one of these books or the more recent Meaning of Ichiro.

Baseball has been in Japan long before WWII.
Re: Baseball's Introduction to Japan
[ Author: Guest: T_o | Posted: Feb 27, 2005 10:24 AM ]

Two missionaries introduced baseball to Japan in the 1860s, I hear.

The first baseball team was the "Shimbashi Athletic Club," established in 1878 by Hiroshi Hiraoka, a Boston Red Sox fan.
Re: Baseball's Introduction to Japan
[ Author: Guest: Jim Albright | Posted: Feb 28, 2005 1:24 AM ]

Here's a link from an impeccable source to answer the original question: A Short History of Japanese Baseball - Robs Japanese Cards]

Jim Albright
Re: Baseball's Introduction to Japan
[ Author: Guest: Kappa | Posted: Mar 1, 2005 12:48 AM ]

That link has several inaccurate things.

The first international game in Japan was in 1876, Japanese students team vs. Americans.

"Ichiko" is Daiichi Koutou Gakkou, not Ichiban Chugau.

And Takehiko Bessho is right, not Takehiro, etc.

I don't know why the site doesn't mention Shibaura Undou Kyokai or Tensho Yakyudan, they were the first professional team in Japan.

Westbaystars-san, you seem to be a coordinater of that site, please correct the inaccurate things.
Re: Baseball's Introduction to Japan
[ Author: Guest: Rob Fitts | Posted: Mar 2, 2005 6:51 AM ]

I would like to thank Kappa-san for pointing out the mistakes on the SABR History of Japanese Baseball web site. I corrected them today.

For those who do not know, the Ichiko vs. Yokohama Country Club game used to be considered the first international game in Japan, but now we know that a game was played between Tokyo Imperial College and a group of Americans in 1876.

I did not include a reference to the Shibaura Undou Kyokai or Tensho Yakyudan team because the web page is just a short history of Japanese baseball and the team had little long-term impact on the game in Japan.

Rob Fitts
Re: Baseball's Introduction to Japan
[ Author: westbaystars | Posted: Mar 1, 2005 8:25 AM | YBS Fan ]

Thanks, Kappa-sama.

I've forwarded your corrections to Fitts-san. It's always good to see people checking the information here and elsewhere, and pointing out inaccuracies. I'm the first to admit that history is a weak spot for me, so please keep me straight.

Thanks again.
Re: Baseball's Introduction to Japan
[ Author: Guest: Kappa | Posted: Mar 2, 2005 5:07 PM ]

Thank you for quick response.

About the school name, you seem to be confused. When Horace Wilson came to Japan, the school name was Ichiban Chugaku. The next year, the school name changed to Kaisei Gakko, and then again to Tokyo Kaisei Gakko. So "the Imperial College at Tokio" was Tokyo Kaisei Gakko.

Ichiko meant Daiichi Kotou Gakko, not Ichiban Chugaku.

Tokyo University was based on several schools and they often changed their name or merged, so it is confusing.

And three more minor things:

One is a misspelling: Shiriki must be Shoriki.

Dai Nippon Tokyo Yakyu Club changed to Tokyo Giants, in 1947 they became Tokyo Yomiuri Giants.

The last thing is the Emperor had ever attended baseball games before the game between Giants and Tigers. It was the first professinal baseball game attended by the Emperor.

Anyway, it is a good site to learn Japanese baseball history in English.
Re: Baseball's Introduction to Japan
[ Author: Guest: M. Peterson | Posted: Mar 9, 2005 1:40 PM ]

This forum gives a good deal of information, but one question I've gotten recently has a slightly different slant. "Why" did baseball become the popular game it did in Japan, when there are several other sports to choose from - primarily when soccer also has some draw? An educator at a school in which I teach has asked this question and I don't know of a completely reliable answer. I realize that Japanese baseball and American baseball have some differences. Does the popularity of baseball in Japan have something to do with the "group" or "team" concept which is prevalent? Any answers out there?
Re: Baseball's Introduction to Japan
[ Author: Guest: wootfive | Posted: Mar 16, 2005 2:01 PM ]

I do not have your answer, but I share your question. I am in the process of writing a research paper on this topic for a university class, State side. I also am curious to how a game so American found a place in Japanese culture. If anyone has any insight to why the Japanese embraced this game I would really appreciate it being shared.

Also, can anyone answer this question, "What does baseball mean to the Japanese?"
Re: Baseball's Introduction to Japan
[ Author: Guest: Kappa | Posted: Mar 16, 2005 11:41 PM ]

There is no short answer. But I think "school" is the keyword. First baseball became popular among university students. Inter-school games were very popular, this was not only becauese of baseball's popularity, but also rivalries between universities. And newspapers inflated the popularity.

Baseball was a kind of proxy war.

Popular high school baseball tournaments are also based on regional or prefectual rivarly.

Baseball spread among students soon, and as background, in the early 20th century, 95% of childern went to school, so it is easy to imagine that they got to know the most popular sports at school.

After a hard rubber ball was invented, children could play baseball safely at lower cost.

So Japanese baseball has been very much influenced by school colors in the early 20th century.

Furthermore, all major media groups have had much to do with baseball. None of other sports was treated fairly in the media. This allowed baseball's dominance through 20th century.

This is a site about Pro Yakyu (Japanese Baseball), not about who the next player to go over to MLB is. It's a community of Pro Yakyu fans who have come together to share their knowledge and opinions with the world. It's a place to follow teams and individuals playing baseball in Japan (and Asia), and to learn about Japanese (and Asian) culture through baseball.

It is my sincere hope that once you learn a bit about what we're about here that you will join the community of contributors.

Michael Westbay
(aka westbaystars)

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