Thursday, July 14, 2016

One pastime, Two Countries: Japanese Baseball through American Eyes as presented by Matt Dobbins

The Heart of America Japan-America Society held a presentation from their Vice President Matt Dobbins on June 28 speaking about Japanese baseball.

As someone who resides in Kansas as a California transplant, I made the trip to Kansas City and heard the presentation wearing my Saitama Seibu Lions gear. In total, there were 29 people who showed up including several club members.

This presentation put a large emphasis of Horace Wilson introducing the sport of baseball to Japan as an American teacher who was in the country. He eventually would talk about how MLB players like Babe Ruth went on a goodwill tour to Koshien Stadium (where a statue/commemorative plaque still exists today).

In many ways, baseball was a way to recover from WWII as it strengthened the relationship between both countries. Multiple delegations and developments started from the first amateur team and professional team where eventually NPB would originate.

Dobbins spent many years in Japan and eventually was able to visit all 12 primary NPB stadiums in the league. He told me that his favorite is Koshien for their history and prestige. While his photo might be from Koshien, he said he became a fan of the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks due to living in Kagoshima prefecture. (Southern Kyushu, same island where Fukuoka).

A good portion of this discussion talks about baseball, prior to NPB itself being formed. There is also talk about a few differences with MLB and NPB (Lucky 7, more domed stadiums, brand names on teams etc.).

You can also hear my voice in the recording saying a few things. A few other points talked about included the Koshien tournament information and how much emphasis there has been on the amateur game at University and high school levels.

In the audio, I've edited out the part where a video on the Koshien tournament was displayed as well as a Lucky 7 balloons video shown.  The full documentary recommended can be found here.

Enjoy the audio to the presentation below, which brings up the Curse of the Colonel, pre-NPB history and more. My voice can be heard saying a few things if you've listened to our Lions OenDEN podcasts in the past.

There are a few errors (i.e. 4 playoff teams in each league which is really three.), but it is helpful plug and introduction to the brand of baseball in Japan. For those who've been experts on NPB, it is a helpful refresher on history prior to professional baseball.



Heart of America Japan-America Society is a non-profit organization based in Kansas City. You can follow them on Twitter here


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1 comment:

  1. While the Babe did play in Koshien on a goodwill tour, and there's a plaque with a relief there, the more famous Babe Ruth statue in Japan can be found outside Kusanagi stadium in Shizuoka.

    Here's a picture of the statue I took last summer.