The Empress of Canada put into its berth at Yokohama on December 20, eighteen days after the All Americans left for Shanghai and seven weeks after the team had first arrived in Japan. There were no cheering crowds this time. No welcoming committee. Most of the players stayed on board during the brief stop. But two disembarked. Moe Berg would stay briefly in Japan before continuing to Korea, where he would begin a trip across Asia, Europe, and finally the Atlantic. Lefty O’Doul and his wife, Abigail, would spend a few weeks in Tokyo. O’Doul and Sotaro Suzuki had work to do. It was time to create the Japanese professional baseball league.
The Japanese had long regarded professional baseball with suspicion. Baseball, they argued, should be played with a pure heart for spiritual growth, not for money. Influenced by the idealized image of the samurai and Meiji-era Bushido code, Japanese at the turn of the century believed that players should model themselves after these mythical ancient warriors and focus on their tasks rather than worldly concerns. The ideal ball games were played at Koshien, where high schoolers fought on the diamond solely for their schools’ honor. At one point fans considered the Tokyo Big Six University League to also contain the proper spirit, but by the early 1930s critics argued that the star players were professionals in all but name—responsible for little except playing ball and receiving benefits and endorsements for their success on the field. The corruption of the Tokyo Big Six University League became a selling point for professional baseball. Once Japan had pro ball, then there could be a stricter boundary between amateur and professional behavior.
Babe Ruth and the All Americans had paved the way for pro ball in Japan. The Americans’ on- and off-the-field behavior, as well as their