Before the Yomiuri Giants game yesterday in Tokyo, Amy and I went to the Japan Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum under the Tokyo Dome. One room in the museum is dedicated to American baseball and the American baseball tours of Japan. Thirty nine American baseball teams have toured Japan between 1908 to 2014 with more on the way.
The most famous tour was in 1934 when Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig toured. The museum had this poster in the room that Sotaro Suzuki used to lure Babe to Japan.
I also found a collection of baseballs from the many tours. At the very bottom of one of the baseballs was my father’s signature! I was very pleased that he was in the museum in this little way.
I looked around some more and most of the rest of the museum was about Japanese baseball – no surprise there. In the back corner of the museum was a research library and archive. I got excited and showed the two librarians the book that I write with my father about his baseball career and how a chapter of the book was about the tour of Japan. They spoke pretty good English and found a collection of newspaper articles about the 1956 Brooklyn Dodger Goodwill Tour of Japan. The newspapers would have some pictures of the Dodger stars, but not of my father.
One librarian would show Amy and I what they found while the other would scurry around in the archive and find more stuff. They found a Japanese memorabilia magazine that my brother Greg has a copy of. I included some of those pictures in the book, but they weren’t new to me.
While I was looking at some of the articles, the two librarians went “Ohhh, tomichi gawa. OOhh..” Their cute and controlled enthusiasm was infectious. I don’t know what they really said, but they were really excited and brought over another magazine to me. This magazine featured a full page picture of my father with Jim Gentile and Don Demeter. I love the smile and goofy stance that my dad has in this picture:
I took a picture of the first few lines into Google Translate and this is what it says:
Gentil first baseman from the left, Kip pitcher, Demeter middle-hand. Both are in the Dodgers, and they are especially selected and participated in the next visit to Japan. Perfect opportunity for three people to be a major leaguer
I kept looking through the magazine and then I found another picture of Jackie Robinson and Jim Gilliam walking up some stairs with my dad and Don Demeter behind him. My dad was always hanging around with Don and Jackie of course was the person they were photographing. The resolution isn’t very good because it is a picture of a photocopy of a magazine, but you can still see the wide black band on my father’s styling hat.
I was so happy to find some more artifacts from my father’s baseball career. He was so fortunate and worked so hard to play with the Dodgers. It’s amazing to me how many things I have found and there is no way to include them all in a short book, but I can include them in a big website!