FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 01, 2017
U.S. Embassy Baseball Exhibit Features Dodgers’ 1956 Goodwill Tour to Japan
Two photographs from the Dodgers’ 1956 Goodwill Tour to Japan will be featured in the United States Embassy’s baseball exhibit, “Pacific Pitch: U.S.-Japan Baseball Diplomacy”, which opened today at the Tokyo Metropolitan Central Library and continues through July.
The exhibit, which was curated by the Meridian International Center in Washington, D.C., shows in photographs the longstanding relationship between the two countries dating back to the 1870’s when American teachers and professors introduced baseball to Japan. In 1896, the first international game was played in Japan between Ichiko (the first High School) and the American residents of Yokohama.
One photo is of Dodger star Jackie Robinson sliding into third base during an exhibition game, while the other shows Dodger players wearing Happi coats and hachimaki during a reception with Dodger President Walter O’Malley and National League President Warren Giles and their hosts from Japan. Both photos were made available by Historic Dodgertown – Vero Beach, Florida Chairman Peter O’Malley.
The Dodgers made two Goodwill Tours to Japan sponsored by Yomiuri – in the fall of 1956 and, again, in 1966. Matsutaro Shoriki, the “Father of Baseball in Japan” and the founder of the Yomiuri Shimbun dispatched Sotaro Suzuki to New York to meet with O’Malley in 1956. Sportswriter Suzuki, who later was inducted into the Japan Baseball Hall of Fame, invited O’Malley to send his Brooklyn Dodgers to Japan for a 20-game tour in October and November. After many discussions with baseball officials and Dodger personnel, O’Malley agreed to make the significant trip, not far removed from the end of World War II.
The National League Champion Dodgers went 14-4-1 on the exhibition tour, playing to large and enthusiastic crowds from Tokyo to Osaka. One of the most memorable and poignant moments of the tour was the Dodgers visit to Hiroshima on November 1, when they presented a bronze plaque which was placed at the entrance of the stadium which was inscribed, “We dedicate this visit in memory of those baseball fans and others who died by atomic action on Aug. 6, 1945. May their souls rest in peace and with God’s help and man’s resolution peace will prevail forever, amen.” The plaque included the names of O’Malley, Dodger Manager Walter Alston, Dodger shortstop and team captain Pee Wee Reese and other club executives.
This successful visit to Japan strengthened the bond of friendship between the Dodgers and Japan and spawned more international interaction, including the very next spring at Dodgertown, Vero Beach, Florida. Tokyo Yomiuri Giants Manager Shigeru Mizuhara (later inducted into the Japan Baseball Hall of Fame) and players Shigeru Fujio (catcher) and Sho Horiuchi (pitcher) were invited by O’Malley to visit the Spring Training home of the Dodgers and observe training techniques. Suzuki joined them during their visit.
During 1957 Spring Training, an identical sister plaque from the one in Hiroshima was installed at the west side of the press box at Holman Stadium, the Dodgertown home ballpark of the Dodgers from 1953-2008 and has remained there ever since.
Historic Dodgertown – Vero Beach was the spring training site of the Tokyo Yomiuri Giants in 1961, 1967, 1971, 1975 and 1981 and the Chunichi Dragons of Nagoya in 1988. In 1993, Peter O’Malley arranged for the Dodger Friendship Series tour to Fukuoka, Japan.
About Historic Dodgertown – Vero Beach, Florida
“A Florida Heritage Landmark”
World-famous Historic Dodgertown – Vero Beach, Florida is a multi-sport, 80-acre complex on Florida’s Treasure Coast managed by former Dodger owner Peter O’Malley in a partnership since 2012. O’Malley, whose family developed and expanded the site formerly known as “Dodgertown” for nearly 50 years, partnered with his sister Terry O’Malley Seidler and former Dodger star pitchers Chan Ho Park and Hideo Nomo.
On November 10, 2014, Historic Dodgertown was named a Florida Heritage Landmark for its unique historic significance extending beyond baseball, as the first completely integrated Spring Training site in the South. The “Baseball and Dodgertown” historical marker is located at the entrance to the conference center.
The home of Dodger Spring Trainings from 1948-2008, it was the starting place for six World Championships and 14 N.L. Pennant-winning teams. Numerous Baseball Hall of Fame players trained on these hallowed grounds, as well as 20 visits from professional teams in Asia.
The all-inclusive facility, owned by Indian River County, gives teams of all ages the unique opportunity to train, play, dine and stay together in on-site villas. Participants utilize one of 10 ½ playing fields (seven are Musco-lighted for night games), including a new cloverleaf of youth baseball/softball fields with concessions area and new multi-purpose field (110 by 130 yards) for football, soccer and lacrosse.
Other amenities include clubhouses, two full-sized weight rooms, dining room, Stadium Club lounge and a competition-size swimming pool. The home of 6,500-seat Holman Stadium, Historic Dodgertown – Vero Beach, Florida provides an all-encompassing experience for guests and is the ideal setting to build a championship team. It’s the perfect location for tournaments, camps, schools, business conferences and seminars.
Continuing its tradition since 1983, the Los Angeles Dodgers Adult Baseball Camp returned to Historic Dodgertown in November, 2014. Visit historicdodgertown.com for more information.
Ruth Ruiz, Historic Dodgertown – Vero Beach, Florida, (772) 257-8532