Baseball Is America’s Gift To The World

Baseball Is America’s Gift To The World

Baseball Is America’s Gift To The World

Today is a very important day in the American calendar. It’s Opening Day for Major League Baseball! But I’ll let you all in on a little secret…

Opening Day was actually last week, and it took place in Tokyo, Japan.

You see, the season actually started with a two-game series between the Seattle Mariners and the Oakland Athletics on March 20th and 21st, and the games took place in the Tokyo Dome. Unless you were waking up in the middle of night to watch the game (no comment), you probably missed it. But you probably didn’t miss this news.
Ichiro Suzuki, who will be remembered as one of the best baseball players of the game, retired after the two-game series. The scene inside the Tokyo Dome was electric.

Now, I need you all to remember that 75 years ago, we were locked in a world war against Japan. Tokyo was absolutely leveled by our air power. But baseball had already taken root within Japan as early as the end of the 19th century. Baseball as a national sport was solidified in 1934, when a group of American players – including Babe Ruth – came to play in Japan for an exhibition tour.

The team that was formed to play the American All-Stars would eventually become the Yomiuri Giants, who now play out of the Tokyo Dome.

You would think that post-war, Japan would have been loath to embrace something so uniquely American as baseball. But because the game was already well known, it actually became a link of commonality between American soldiers and the Japanese during the American occupation of Japan.

When I lived in Tokyo as a college student, one of my instructors told a story of his childhood in post-war Japan. He was young – probably around 7 or 8 years old – and with other kids, would hang around the American GIs. One day, the soldiers organized the kids into teams to teach them how to play baseball. My teacher, being the tallest boy, was made the first baseman. He had no idea what he was doing, so the first ball that was thrown to him actually hit him in the head. That day, he recalled over 50 years later, was also the first day he was introduced to Coca-Cola by those same GIs. That experience turned him into a lifelong baseball fan. Whenever we were out on field trips, he was always wearing his favorite Phillies hat.

Baseball, with its emphasis on teamwork and discipline, has turned an American game into an international phenomenon. Kids from Japan can grow up to be major league players just as much as kids from Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Australia, and South Korea. The game, as of last year, boasted players from 21 different countries outside the United States. Baseball speaks a universal language and shows the world an American philosophy about winning, losing, working hard, playing fairly, and individual acheivement more than almost anything else that we could possibly export.

So, on Opening Day, even if baseball isn’t your sport, just remember that this game is special because it is a part of American history and our social fabric – and we’ve willingly shared it with the rest of the world.

Featured image via Pixabay, Pixabay license free for commercial use

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  • DC says:

    There’s nothing like walking into the ball park and seeing all that green grass
    for the first time each season. It always makes me pause, to take in a majestic
    vista of players warming up, fans finding their seats and the sounds of vendors selling
    hot links and beer. And then The Voice sings the last two words of the Star Spangled Banner: Play ball!
    Savor that moment because 162 games can go by real fast.
    Go A’s.

  • Nina Bookout says:


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