Pacific Pitch

U.S. – Japan Baseball Diplomacy

Baseball is a shining example of sports diplomacy. Originally based on an English folk game, baseball became a prevalent modern team sport in the United States by the mid-nineteenth century. It was brought to Japan by a group of young Americans hired by the government to assist with the nation’s modernization and Westernization. The game spread rapidly and widely across Japan in the ensuing decades, first as a student sport, then as a semi-professional game, and finally, as a commercialized enterprise. Because of its early arrival and diffusion through the education system, baseball was quickly embraced in Japan as the most popular Western team sport, overshadowing other games such as soccer and basketball.

By the early twentieth century, baseball emerged as a national pastime in the United States and Japan. Pacific Pitch: U.S.-Japan Baseball Diplomacy highlights the shared love that has created many spheres of reciprocal influences. This sport particularly helped shepherd the countries through their bitter World War II rivalry to become two of the closest allies in the world. Baseball, always central in the cross-cultural interactions, grew alongside trade and inter-governmental affairs, and continues to form a cornerstone of U.S.-Japan civil exchange.

Dr. Sayuri Guthrie Shimizu
Dunlevie Family Chair in History
Rice University







ライス大学歴史学部 教授