Inside (U.S.-Japan) Baseball: Stories from the Dugout
Presented by the Japan Information & Culture Center, Embassy of Japan
The featured event in conjunction with the JICC summer exhibition A New League!
Image courtesy of Yuriko Romer / Flying Carp Productions
To celebrate the 2018 Major League Baseball All-Star Game in Washington, D.C. and in conjunction with our new exhibition, A New League: Shared Pastimes and the Story of U.S.-Japan Baseball, the JICC is excited to present a special event to celebrate and learn about how the game of baseball has forged and fostered bonds between the U.S. and Japan.
The program will feature presentations on U.S.-Japan baseball history from historians and Japanese baseball experts and specialists as well as an exclusive screening of an in-production version of the upcoming documentary film on U.S.-Japan baseball history, Diamond Diplomacy. The program will conclude with a Q&A with the presenters.
Presenters include baseball historian, Robert Fitts (author of Banzai Babe Ruth and Mashi), and filmmaker and director of Diamond Diplomacy, Yuriko Romer. In addition, Masanori "Mashi" Murakami, the first Japanese professional baseball player to play in Major League Baseball in 1964, is also scheduled to appear at this event.
Masanori "Mashi" Murakami
In 1964, 19-year-old Masanori Murakami was sent to the U.S. by his team, the Nankai Hawks, to improve his skills. He quickly demonstrated his talent and was enlisted by the San Francisco Giants and became the first Japanese to play in the Major Leagues. His pitching ability made him essential to the team and his affable nature made him a favorite among fans who knew him as "Mashi." However, a dispute over his contract between the San Francisco Giants and the Nankai Hawks forced him to return to Japan in 1965. (Courtesy of Robert Fitts)
Murakami continued to play for the Hawks until 1974 when he joined the Hanshin Tigers and then the Nippon-Ham Fighters where he played until he retired in 1982. Since then he has been a pitching coach for several Japanese professional teams, a sports commentator and announcer for NHK, and a writer for the Daily Sports newspaper. In 2004 he received the Foreign Minister's Certificate of Commendation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan.
A former archaeologist with a Ph.D. from Brown University, Rob Fitts left academics behind to follow his passion - Japanese Baseball. His articles have appeared in numerous magazines and websites, including Nine, the Baseball Research Journal, the National Pastime, Sports Collectors Digest, and on MLB.com.
He is the author of four books on Japanese baseball. His latest Mashi: The Unfulfilled Baseball Dreams of Masanori Murakami, the First Japanese Major Leaguer was recently published by the University of Nebraska Press. His last book, Banzai Babe Ruth (University of Nebraska Press, 2012), won the Society of American Baseball Research's (SABR) Seymour Medal for Best Baseball Book of 2012, was a finalist for the 2012 Casey Award, and won a silver medal at the Independent Publisher Book Awards.
Earlier books include Wally Yonamine: The Man Who Changed Japanese Baseball (University of Nebraska Press, 2008) and Remembering Japanese Baseball: An Oral History of the Game(Southern Illinois University Press, 2005), which won the Sporting News-Society of American Baseball Research 2005 Award for Baseball Research.
He is now working on a history of early Japanese-American baseball.
Yuriko Gamo Romer is an award-winning director based in San Francisco. She holds a Master’s degree in documentary filmmaking from Stanford University and is a Student Academy Award winner, National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Scholar, and American Association of Japanese University Women Scholar.
Her current documentary project DIAMOND DIPLOMACY, explores the relationship between the United States and Japan through a shared love of baseball. She directed and produced MRS JUDO: Be Strong, Be Gentle, Be Beautiful the only biographical documentary about Keiko Fukuda (1913-2013), the first woman to attain the 10th degree black belt in judo. MRS JUDO has traveled to more than 25 film festivals internationally and was awarded the Grand Jury Award for Best Documentary at the 2013 International Festival of Sport Films in Moscow and broadcast on PBS nationally as part of CAAM’s Japanese American Lives 2014.
Additionally, her film Occidental Encounters won numerous awards, among them a Student Academy Award Gold Medal; Heartland FF’s Jimmy Stewart Memorial Crystal Heart Award; and National Media Network’s Silver Apple. Romer’s short films include Reflection, Kids will be Kids, Sunnyside of the Slope, Fusion and Friend Ships, a short historical animation about John Manjiro, the inadvertent Japanese immigrant rescued by an American whaling captain.
This event is free but registration is required for security purposes.
Program begins at 6:30 PM. Doors open 30 minutes prior.
No admission or re-entry will be permitted after 7:00 PM.
Registered guests will be seated on a first come, first served basis. Please arrive early as seating is limited and registration does not guarantee guests a seat.