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Transpacific Field of Dreams

Baseball in U.S.-Japanese Relations, 1872-1952

Sayuri Guthrie-Shimizu

Publication Year: 2012

This is the first in-depth scholarly treatment of the long-term development of U.S.-Japan baseball connections. Guthrie-Shimuzu studies the almost contemporaneous diffusion and popularization of baseball in the U.S., Hawaii, Japan, and east Asia under Japanese colonial rule. After the “opening” of Japan by Commodore Perry, the Meiji emperor began to engage the trans-Pacific world at roughly the same time as the United States and with energies and ambitions emblematic of rapidly industrializing and self reinventing societies. In its drive to modernize, the state recruited over 3000 foreign employees to assist the government in adopting western science and technology and building institutions to handle the demands of a complex modern society. Baseball was introduced to Japan by these “foreign employees,” and Japanese sent for study in the U.S. also picked up the game and were avid players upon their return home. Visiting warships fielded teams that played against local clubs and American teams—even Japanese American teams and Negro League teams, excluded from the major leagues—arranged tours to the island. By the 1930s,professional baseball was organized in Japan and even played throughout World War II.

Published by: The University of North Carolina Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-v


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pp. vii

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pp. ix-xi

Writing this book was a long journey, and I have, as most long-distance travelers do, accumulated debts of gratitude to countless individuals and organizations along the way. First, I would like to thank the following institutions for their financial support: Michigan State University’s Intramural Research Grant Program...

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pp. 1-10

“Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America hadbetter learn baseball,” Jacques Barzun famously wrote in 1954. Thus the French-born scholar of American culture identified baseball’s unique place in American life. Barzun’s paean to baseball has been so often quoted...

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CHAPTER 1. Pacific Crossings

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pp. 11-39

On December 30, 1907, Abraham G. Mills, the fourth president of the National League of Base Ball Clubs (NL ), issued the final report of a special seven-member panel appointed by Albert G. Spalding, a kingpin of American professional baseball’s founding brothers, to determine “the...

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CHAPTER 2. Colonial Baseball

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pp. 40-74

Baseball’s spread across the United States in the postbellum period was notable for its contemporaneous diffusion outside America’s national borders. As Adrian Burgos has instructed us, North American professionals’ first documented travel to Cuba took place in 1879 when future...

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CHAPTER 3. Leagues of Their Own

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pp. 75-108

After Japan’s narrow victory in the Russo-Japanese War, the national priorities and strategic objectives of the United States and Japan appeared increasingly at odds, especially in places like Manchuria, Japan’s new sphere of influence taken over from Russia. U.S. Navy strategists and their allies...

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CHAPTER 4. The Business of Baseball

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pp. 109-139

Just as “winter ball” in Mexico and Cuba evolved into a commercially viable seasonal institution of American organized baseball in the early decades of the twentieth century thanks to improved trans-Caribbean transport, communications infrastructures, and a growing fan base, American...

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CHAPTER 5. Empires of Fun and Games

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pp. 140-170

In the early and middle 1930s, the governments of the United States and Japan cast about for ways to iron out their growing differences in the realm of diplomacy and military strategy. The Japanese military aggression that erupted in Manchuria in September 1931 severely strained the nation’s...

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CHAPTER 6. Spartan Leagues

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pp. 171-197

When Japanese troops in north China became implicated in the Marco Paulo Bridge Incident in July 1937, a full-scale war began between Japan and Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist China. As Japan mobilized for war, a Japanese tour by Pacific Coast League all-stars scheduled for the fall...

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CHAPTER 7. A Field of New Dreams

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pp. 198-223

The war in the Asia-Pacific ended on August 15, 1945, with Japan’s unconditional surrender to the Allied Powers. Within a scant two months, baseball returned to the prostrate nation. The restoration of organized baseball at all levels—professional, semipro, and amateur—began in the...

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CHAPTER 8. The Search for Postwar Order

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pp. 224-240

In the early postwar seasons, the chaos that often accompanies a new business enterprise afflicted Japanese professional baseball, where codified business rules were almost nonexistent. Player raiding and contract jumping were rampant, just as they had been in American professional...

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pp. 241-244

Japanese American baseball players’ field of new dreams after War II proved as variegated as their wartime experiences, and only a few had a postwar transition as lucrative as Harada’s. The Department of the Army lifted its internment order in January 1945, and the War...

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Between pages 244-245


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pp. 245-284

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 285-304


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pp. 305-314

E-ISBN-13: 9781469601830
E-ISBN-10: 1469601834
Print-ISBN-13: 9780807835623
Print-ISBN-10: 0807835625

Page Count: 344
Illustrations: 2 line drawings, 1 map
Publication Year: 2012

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Baseball -- Political aspects -- United States.
  • Baseball -- Political aspects -- Japan.
  • United States -- Foreign relations -- Japan.
  • Japan -- Foreign relations -- United States.
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