Transpacific Field of Dreams: How Baseball Linked the United States and Japan in Peace and War

By Sayuri Guthrie-Shimizu | Go to book overview
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7
A FIELD OF
NEW DREAMS

The war in the Asia-Pacific ended on August 15, 1945, with Japan’s unconditional surrender to the Allied Powers. Within a scant two months, baseball returned to the prostrate nation. The restoration of organized baseball at all levels—professional, semipro, and amateur—began in the early postsurrender months with the full blessings of the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (SCAP), the political authority now in control of the country. With the return of organized baseball, the game’s attendant institutions, such as national tournaments, national governing bodies, and baseball journalism, also quickly burst back into life in occupied Japan. Despite, or perhaps because of, the paralyzing material shortage and the emotional dislocation wrought by the long, drawn-out state of war, Japanese of all categories—men and women, young and olddevoured baseball in all of its permutations. By the time the Allied occupation formally ended in April 1952, baseball had clearly eclipsed sumo in popular appeal and established itself as the most beloved mass spectator sport in postwar Japan. During the seven years of the Allied occupation, Japanese professional baseball evolved into a successful commercial enterprise in a format resembling, at least in form, the U.S. major leagues, possessing a two-league structure complete with a players’ association and the Commissioner’s Office. In the meantime, Japan’s semipro industrial league virtually became a regional branch of the NBC, the governing body of American semipro professional baseball now encompassing military teams under its umbrella.

In the early postwar years, the American occupation overlord and its Japanese partners worked closely together in crafting baseball into a new national iconography of peace, democracy, and freedom, signifying both continuity with an idealized yesteryear and a clean break from the re

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Transpacific Field of Dreams: How Baseball Linked the United States and Japan in Peace and War
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