Cieradkowski: Jimmy Horio, the Japanese Ty Cobb

From SABR member Gary Cieradkowski at The Infinite Baseball Card Set on June 17, 2013:

While learning about the Negro Leagues years ago, I became interested in the various teams they competed against when not playing against other black teams. Back before the Second World War there was a whole parallel universe of baseball operating just out of bounds of the recognized leagues affiliated with major league baseball. Researchers Scott Simkus and Gary Ashwill seem to have coined the perfect phrase for these teams and the games they played: “Outsider Baseball”. From flickering microfilm and disintegrating yellowing newspapers I learned about the bearded House Of David religious colony from Michigan which sent out as many as 3 different traveling teams a season to play all over the country. I heard about the Nebraska Indians, made up of, you guessed it, Native Americans. I read about barnstorming teams made up of major league stars angling to make a buck. All-Girl teams. Teams of washed up players sponsored by a shoe company. Prison teams. The F.B.I. had a team which J. Edgar Hoover never failed to come out and support. And I also came across the Japanese All-Stars which toured North America in 1935.

Among the Japanese players was a lone American, Jimmy Horio. I was fascinated by what little I could find out about him and when I started this site Horio was among the first players I featured. It was a much too short overview of a career which spanned two continents and 2 decades and heavily influenced the way the game was played in Japan. Over the years I have received many emails asking about him and the original story is consistently one of the most-read pages on my site. Information about Jimmy is hard to find in English, but over the years I have been digging up every article I could find about the 1935 Tokyo Giants and their players. Rob Fitt’s beautifully written book “Banzai Babe Ruth“, about the 1934 Tour of Japan, features Horio as a minor character and offers some good insight into his time with the Dai Nippon team. I also managed to have some key articles translated from the Japanese by a colleague of my fiancé which helped me gain much insight on how Horio was treated in the Japanese Baseball League. Now I believe I can say this is the most comprehensive article about one of the most interesting and little-known players in “Outsider Baseball” history.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: June 17, 2013. Last Updated: June 17, 2013.