Stuart Bell lay in bed, his head pounding. Light seeped through the curtains, and he knew that he had overslept. He cursed the sake that had been “poured in an uninterrupted stream” the night before. Today was a national holiday, Emperor Meiji’s birthday, and the team was expected at Meiji Shrine at ten o’clock.
The All Americans ate breakfasts of oatmeal and ham hocks in the Imperial Hotel dining room before climbing into cars for the trip to the shrine. The motorcade made it easily to Aoyama, just east of the shrine, but there twenty to thirty thousand people gathered for the twin spectacle of the birthday celebration and the ballplayers’ visit. The cars inched forward until discharging their passengers at Jingu Bridge. Police tried to clear a path but failed, as the mob pressed around the players, begging for autographs. They signed and signed, but the insatiable fans kept pushing closer. Ruth “was mauled,” wrote a reporter. “When one particularly energetic contingent of boys tried to climb up his huge body and stuck their fountain pens and papers under his nose in a mass attack, he got out a big black cigar, lit it and puffed the smoke into their eyes.” The malodorous smoke cleared the area, and under a re-formed police escort the players entered the shrine.1
Roughly one hundred yards down the path they passed through the second of the three torii that mark the entrance to Shinto shrines. The symbolic gates, formed by pillars on both sides of a path and topped by double crossbeams, are believed to purify the soul before visiting the enshrined spirit in the sanctuary. The pressing crowd obscured the first torii that stood at the shrine’s entrance, but it would have been hard for the visitors to miss Meiji Shrine’s famous second torii. The thirty-six-foot-tall gates with four-foot-thick