Thursday, May 24, 2007

Japanese Baseball

Have you ever wondered how did Baseball reach the shores of Japan? Was its advent like that of the United States? Was it a children's game that turned into a national obsession? How long have they been playing Baseball?

In a way, Baseball hit Japan in much the same way as America. The difference is that Baseball was an import from a far away land for the Japanese, whereas, Baseball was born and bred in America. As most of you know, Baseball in America was a children's game that evolved from the game of cricket and rounders. In Japan, an American instructor introduced the game in 1873. His name is Horace Wilson.
"It was very important that it began inside a school. It didn't develop from games played by children. The fact that it started on the campus of Japan's most prestigious school, and that it was taught by a teacher, determined the fate of Japanese baseball.

The students of the time tended to stay in the classroom and study or debate constantly. But they didn't play any sports, and they were physically weak. They were unhealthy.

That was a problem. So [Horace Wilson] said, look, if you are going to lead Japan in the future, you have to be strong. You have to study, but you also have to be healthy. And baseball was his way of bringing the students outside and into the sun.

He just happened to know baseball, which he learned in the Civil War. That was very fortuitous for Japan. It could have been any sport. But the students loved baseball. They were fascinated."

Like in America, Japan owes its Baseball obsession to the American Civil War. Baseball spread like wildfire in America after the war. Soldiers would play the game and passed it along to fellow soldiers throughout the country. The Japanese discovered Baseball because a teacher learned the game when he was a soldier during that War.

It's funny how things can be different, yet eerily the same.

Horace Wilson was elected into the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame in 2003.

Hat Tip: Net54 VBCF: Adam:
Photo Link: Japanese BHOF:

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