Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Meiji Nine tour the US

In 1924, the Meiji University baseball team toured the US. They would play college teams, athletic clubs and others as they made their way across the western and central United States.



The photograph above was taken at Dugdale Park on April 20, 1924, according to notes at the University of Washington Library. At the same time the Meiji University baseball team was touring, the US was debating the passage of the exclusionary Johnson-Reed Act, yet another immigration law based on the supply of labor. The law included the National Origins Act and the Asian Exclusion Act. As always, the best parts of America were not to be found in its legislative bodies, but rather in the actions of its people, who preferred to play a game of baseball. The first Japanese team to tour the US was from Waseda University in 1905, a trip that was sponsored by the government of Japan to generate good will. At that time, the US was also in an uproar over Japanese immigration, much of it brought on by the Russo-Japanese War and Hearst Newspapers. Organized Japanese baseball, and the Japanese Socialist movement, were started by Isoo Abe. Abe had come back to Japan in 1899 after studying in the US, and brought with him baseball and radical thought. In the same year he organized a baseball team at Waseda, he participated in the first meeting of the Japanese Socialist Study Group with Shusui Kotoko.

By 1924, Japanese colleges had made at least a half-dozen tours of the US, and the tours would match them up against US colleges, high schools, and the many Issei teams up and down the west coast. Major League teams had also toured Japan. In fact, the Suquamish Indian Tribe had even toured Japan. Lots of interaction. The Suquamish story is quite interesting, but I digress. Here is the first article detailing the arrival of the Meiji team, and the second article is from April 16, four days later, and details the results of the first game.The panoramic photo above would have been taken after the two game series at Denny Park and the side trip to play the Sixth Avenue club from/at the City of Destiny.





The two teams would play again the next day, coming down to a final throw at the plate:

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