Fitts: The first Japanese professional baseball game took place in … Kansas?

From SABR member Rob Fitts at Our Game on April 13, 2020:

American baseball historians have a fetish for documenting first occurrences: the first game, the first curveball, the first no-hitter, the first player of each ethnicity. It’s no different in Japan.

Baseball in Japan has a long, well documented history. The first game on Japanese soil was played in late-October 1871 in Yokohama between American residents and members of the visiting crew from the USS Colorado. A year later, American teacher Horace Wilson introduced the game to his Japanese students at Daiichi Daigaku (later Kaisei Gakkko) in Tokyo. In 1878 Hiroshi Hiraoka, returning from six years studying in the United States, founded the Shinbashi Athletic Club — the first all Japanese baseball team. The game flourished in Japan’s elite private schools in Tokyo before spreading across the country in 1896 following the upset victory of the Japanese First Higher School (a high school) over the adult American team from the Yokohama Country and Athletic Club.

During the first few decades of the 20th century, baseball would become Japan’s most popular sport — played at nearly every middle school, high school and college in the country. But it remained an amateur endeavor.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: April 13, 2020. Last Updated: April 13, 2020.