History of Japanese Baseball
Japanese baseball has a long history since it began in 1870. According to Gary, Engel, “Dr. Horace Wilson, an American professor teaching in Japan, introduced the Japanese to baseball in the 1870's. As a result, baseball first became popular at Japanese universities.” During the 1920’s and early 1930’s, the Big Six University league became the most biggest baseball league in Japan. The Big Six University league is organized of the University of Tokyo, Waseda University, Keio University, Rikkyo University, Meiji University, and Hosei University. Moreover, during that time, some American Major League players visited Japan and held exhibition games with Japanese teams. A team consisting of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and other future Hall of Famers played eighteen games in Japan”(qtd in, Gary Engel). Many Japanese people started to become interested in baseball, and as a result Japanese Major League baseball began in 1936 through 1944 with six to eight teams. However, in 1945, the baseball league was stopped because of Second World War. Many talented baseball players went to War. In 1950, Japanese Major League baseball resumed and formed two leagues, the Central League and Pacific League. These two leagues make up NPB [Nippon Pro Baseball], and still remain today.
Japanese Player’s Accomplishments in MLB
The history of Japanese MLB players has included many challenges and achievements. The first Japanese MLB baseball player was Masanori Murakami, who was a San Francisco Giants’s minor league pitcher for two years. In 1962, Murakami entered the Japanese Pacific League professional team, the Nankai Hawks. In 1964, Murakami joined the San Francisco Giants minor league team to develop his baseball skills with two young non-prospect players. At that time, “Both the NPB and MLB commissioners' offices had signed off on the Nankai - San Francisco development deal, wherein the teams would agree to send players back and forth to train in the minors” (“Masanori Murakami”). In the same year, August 31st, Murakami suddenly got a chance to play with the Giants MLB team. The next day, he pitched in NewYork against the NewYork Mets making the first moment a Japanese baseball player played in MLB. During this season, he pitched in nine games with one-win and one-saved game. In addition, his ERA was 1.80 at that year....