All Suzuki could do was wait. And wait. Ruth was in Washington DC. playing out the last two games of the 1934 season. He would return to New York in two or three days. Suzuki spent the time visiting his haunts from his days at Columbia, watching a Giants game at the Polo Grounds, and meeting with Ruth’s agent, Christy Walsh, and Lefty O’Doul to determine how to convince the Babe to honor his commitment. The nights were bad. On the twenty-ninth, Suzuki turned in at one but tossed and turned until three. He awoke just an hour later, dressed, and began another fret-filled day. The next night was even worse. Exhausted, he went to bed early but stared at the ceiling until sleep finally came at four.
At ten o’clock, October 1, an associate of Christy Walsh arrived at the hotel to take Suzuki to see Ruth. Sotaro grabbed a bag before they drove to a barbershop on West Eighty-Eighth Street. Ruth sat in the barber’s chair, his back to the door. Butterflies filled Sotaro’s stomach. The next few moments would determine the success of the tour, perhaps the future of Japanese professional baseball, and probably his job. Swallowing hard, he entered. Seeing Suzuki’s reflection in the barbershop mirror, Ruth smiled his big ear-to-ear grin and said hello. Taking his large paw from beneath the white cloth, he grasped Suzuki’s hand. A few moments later the barber finished, and Ruth heaved himself from the chair with a scowl.
“I’m not going to Japan,” the Babe growled.
Although Suzuki had expected the message, the forcefulness of Ruth’s announcement surprised him.
Ruth was in a foul mood. Unbeknownst to Suzuki, Ruth’s dream of managing the Yankees had just been shattered, and his future in Major League Baseball was now uncertain.