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

By Sayuri Guthrie-Shimizu | Go to book overview

2
COLONIAL BASEBALL

Baseball’s spread across the United States in the postbellum period was notable for its contemporaneous diffusion outside America’s national borders. As Adrian Burgos has instructed us, North American professionals’ first documented travel to Cuba took place in 1879 when future majorleague manager Frank Bancroft led the Rochester-based Hop Bitters on a tour of the Spanish colony. Other professional teams traveled to Cuba over the next two decades whenever the intermittent anticolonial insurgency on the island would permit such excursions. In the meantime, an embryonic structure of intra-Caribbean competition between Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic emerged as sugarcane production on these islands expanded and refineries became key sites for local laborers to play béisbol. By the end of the century, an intrahemispheric circuit of baseball play was in place, linking New York, San Francisco, and Chicago with Havana, San Juan, and Santo Domingo. Through this transnational circuit, playing talents, management expertise, and technical and other information flowed both ways. The end of Spanish colonial rule in Cuba turned the Caribbean island into a regular winter stop for American professional squads and barnstorming players from the major, highend minor, and Negro leagues in the early twentieth century. The growing presence of the U.S. Navy in the circum-Caribbean region also afforded more opportunities for local clubs, both professional and amateur, to challenge North Americans on the diamond.1

Almost concomitantly, a transoceanic loop of baseball play linking the United States with Hawaii, Japan, and the Philippines began to take shape. As was the case with the Caribbean, a wide variety of historical actors participated in the circulation of America’s national pastime to places outside the Western Hemisphere. The lineup ranged from individuals, American

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

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Pacific Crossings 11
  • 2 - Colonial Baseball 40
  • 3 - Leagues of Their Own 75
  • 4 - The Business of Baseball 109
  • 5 - Empires of Fun and Games 140
  • 6 - Spartan Leagues 172
  • 7 - A Field of New Dreams 199
  • 8 - The Search for Postwar Order 225
  • Epilogue 242
  • Notes 246
  • Selected Bibliography 286
  • Index 306
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