Skip to comments.Banzai Babe Ruth: Baseball, Espionage, & Assassination During the 1934 Tour of Japan”
Posted on 06/12/2012 12:22:12 PM PDT by nickcarraway
From their foxholes on Cape Gloucester in the South Pacific, U.S. Marines fighting Japanese forces in 1944 heard an unusual war cry from their enemies: To hell with Babe Ruth!
Almost 10 years had passed since 500,000 Japanese crowded the streets of Tokyo to welcome the Sultan of Swat and 14 other all-star American baseball players taking part in a barnstorming tour of the country. Part diplomatic mission and part vacation for the players, the 1934 tour was organized as a way to bring the two baseball-loving countries closer together during a particularly rough period.
As baseball historian Robert K. Fitts recounts in his admirable and deeply researched new book, Banzai Babe Ruth, in 1934 the world was edging closer to war. A naval treaty among the United States, Britain and Japan was on the brink of failure. The Japanese army was conducting exercises in preparation for combat. Who better to ease tensions than Americas ambassadors of the baseball diamond?
Fitts explains that the introduction of baseball to the Japanese is credited to one Horace Wilson, a Civil War veteran who taught English in Japan in the early 1870s. In the intervening decades, several American players had visited Japan to promote the sport, but no roster was more star-studded than the team that arrived in Tokyo on Nov. 2, 1934.
Led by Cornelius McGillicuddy, the venerable manager of the Philadelphia Athletics known as Connie Mack, the team featured nine future Hall of Famers. Besides Ruth who took 20 pieces of luggage on the trip, including one bag carrying nothing but cans of chewing tobacco the lineup featured New York Yankees first baseman and slugger Lou Gehrig, and Athletics home run king Jimmie Foxx.
The Americans played 18 games against their rivals, the All-Nippon team, composed of many of
(Excerpt) Read more at washingtonpost.com ...
I’d have a hard time shooting at someone screaming, “To hell with Lady Gaga!”
Very cool. Thanks for posting.
Since the United States Army did the great majority of the fighting against the Japanese, I wonder it they ever heard it?
Babe Ruth could hit a lot better.
He liked to tell me the story of a drunk who accosted Eleanor on a train one trip.
"Eleanor Roosevelt!", he yelled. "You've got to be the most hideously ugly woman which God ever created."
Not to be insulted, Eleanor shouted back "And you've got to be the most disgustingly obnoxious drunk I've ever met in my life."
"Yep!" said the drunk as he staggered away, "but tomorrow, I'll be sober."
I recall reading one of the famous books about WWII in the Pacific and an exchange where a Marine shouted out: “Tojo eats shiite!”. An enraged Japanese soldier shouts back: “Roosever eat shiite!” And then a Republican chimes in: “You damn straight he does!”
I’d always assumed the Japanese adopted baseball after the war.
I LOVE JAPANESE BASEBALL. While I’m a big Hanshin Tigers fan, nothing is more awesome than Koshien (Japanese High School Baseball Tournament). It’s been going on since the 1920’s.
Daisuke Matsuzaka (now Red Sox) pitching a NO HITTER, after he pitched 16 innings against PL Gakuen in semi-finals (one more inning and they would have to replay the game).
In 1932 Charlie Chaplin travelled to Japan and and was a target of coup plotters who hoped to start a war with America. They apparently didn't realize that he was still a British citizen.
“My Dad served in a landing ship (AKA class) off shore on Okinawa in 1945.”
So did mine. I’ve got pictures of the aftermath of the Typhoon they survived in his scrap book. He got shot through the leg driving a truck.
The military dictatorship once tried to suppress it, but had to be content with changing the name (yakyu) and Japanizing the vocabulary, a legacy still left to this day.