Banzai Babe Ruth: Baseball, Espionage, & Assassination during the 1934 Tour of Japan

By Robert K. Fitts | Go to book overview

3

Lefty O’Doul left Japan infatuated with its culture. After the injury he spent his time instructing Japanese players and talking with his old acquaintance Sotaro Suzuki. He seemed to love everything about the country—its natural beauty, traditions, food, and especially the people. “I like people who you’re not wasting your time trying to help,” O’Doul later told baseball historian Lawrence Ritter. “Teaching Americans and teaching Japanese is just like the difference between night and day. The American kid, he knows more than the coach. But not the Japanese kid. They want to learn. They don’t think they know everything.”1

Many think of O’Doul as the greatest American hitter not enshrined in Cooperstown. He won two batting titles (one with a .398 average), and his .349 lifetime average is the fourth best in Major League history, but he played in just seven seasons as a full-time position player. Lefty broke into the Majors as a pitcher for the 1919 Yankees, entering just eleven games over three seasons before being traded to Boston in 1923. The Red Sox gave him a chance to prove himself, but hampered by a sore arm, he posted a 5.43 ERA in twentythree games before being released. O’Doul returned to his native California and played in the Pacific Coast League, where he abandoned the mound for the outfield. At thirty-one years old he returned to the Majors as an outfielder for the 1928 Giants before being traded to Philadelphia the following season. By 1931 he was back in New York— this time as a Dodger. As a contact hitter O’Doul had few equals, but he was an atrocious fielder, with a poor arm. Bob Stevens, a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, once wrote that O’Doul “could run like a deer. Unfortunately, he threw like one, too.”2

Within days of returning from Japan, O’Doul wrote Sotaro Su-

-22-

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Banzai Babe Ruth: Baseball, Espionage, & Assassination during the 1934 Tour of Japan
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations viii
  • Recurring Japanese Characters ix
  • Prologue xiii
  • Part 1 - "When I Say I’Ll Do Something, I Bet My Life on It." 1
  • 1 3
  • 2 12
  • 3 22
  • 4 31
  • 5 34
  • 6 39
  • 7 43
  • 8 55
  • 9 65
  • Part 2 - "Babe Ruth… Is a Great Deal More Effective Ambassador Than I Could Ever Be." 83
  • 10 85
  • 11 88
  • 12 98
  • 13 104
  • 14 113
  • 15 120
  • 16 131
  • 17 137
  • 18 142
  • Part 3 - "The Japanese Are Equal to the Americans in Strength of Spirit." 179
  • 19 181
  • 20 183
  • 21 196
  • 22 198
  • 23 208
  • 24 210
  • Part 4 - "There Will Be No War between the United States and Japan." 219
  • 25 221
  • 26 229
  • 27 234
  • 28 240
  • 29 249
  • Part 5 - "To Hell with Babe Ruth!" 259
  • 30 261
  • 31 266
  • 32 271
  • 33 281
  • 34 284
  • 35 293
  • Appendix 1- The All American Touring Party 299
  • Appendix 2- Tour Batting and Pitching Statistics 301
  • Appendix 3- Tour Game Line Scores 303
  • Acknowledgments 307
  • Notes 311
  • Bibliography 325
  • Index 335
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