international relations

Brooklyn Dodgers 1956 Goodwill Tour to Japan - Postscript

POSTSCRIPT: The 1956 Dodgers had played 218 games — 35 games in Spring Training, 154 regular season games, 7 World Series games against the New York Yankees, 3 games in Hawaii and 19 games in the Goodwill Tour to Japan.

  • After the Japan tour, several articles criticized the Dodgers for not giving their all in the games. However, team captain Pee Wee Reese stated in Honolulu, Hawaii on November 16 that the Japanese “should be given credit for playing a good brand of baseball instead of belittling the Dodgers for not putting out. Sure we would have played better but we are a tired bunch of fellows. We did our best at all times.”1

  • On November 23, 1956, WRCA AM 660 in New York aired a recorded version of the Dodgers and the Japan All-Stars. According to the New York Times, “The contest was one of the series in which the National League pennant winners dropped four to the Japanese, a fact that apparently evens the score for Madama Butterfly...The fans seem decorous and no epithet in any way related to ‘dem bums’ was audible. Vince Scully and Bill McCord helped make the sports program into a breezy and educational cultural affair by their descriptions and interviews.” In one-half inning, the game broadcast was narrated by a Japanese announcer to give local fans the full flavor of the international experience.

  • In their editorial about the Dodgers tour in Japan, the New York Times includes: “On several occasions an outspoken Japanese press declared that they (the Dodgers) were something less than overwhelmingly impressive. They were tired and showed it. Nevertheless, we feel that the trip was a tremendous success. The Dodgers played before half a million fans. They saw an improved lot of Japanese players. They promoted the game. Baseball can be an international language. A double play is just as good in Romanji as in English. Japan has been a good field for development of baseball interest. There are strong teams also in Canada and the Philippines. Some splendid players have come from Cuba, Venezuela and Puerto Rico. We look forward to the time when there will be a real ‘world’ series along the lines of Davis Cup play. Baseball has helped to break down some big barriers in this country. It may serve, internationally, to the same end.”

  • Dodger President Walter O’Malley invited catcher Shigeru Fujio and pitcher Sho Horiuchi of the Yomiuri Giants for 1957 Spring Training at Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Florida. The players, along with Giants Manager Shigeru Mizuhara and famous Yomiuri sports columnist Sotaro Suzuki, who organized the 1956 Dodgers Goodwill Tour to Japan, were guests of the Dodgers from February 28-March 22, 1957. Upon their arrival, all Dodger players and officials welcomed the visitors. For their many successes and contributions to the sport, Mizuhara and Suzuki were inducted into the Japan Baseball Hall of Fame in 1977 and 1968, respectively. In 1961, the entire Giants team from Tokyo visited Dodgertown and made subsequent trips there at the invitation of O’Malley in 1967, 1971 and 1975. Dodger President Peter O’Malley, who coordinated all aspects of the Giants’ visit to Dodgertown in 1961, continued the tradition of hosting teams from Japan to train there, as the Giants returned to Dodgertown in 1981 and the Chunichi Dragons of Nagoya visited there in 1988.

  • On May 16, 2016, The Wall Street Journal runs an article about the Dodgers’ 1956 Goodwill Tour to Japan with the headline: “Sixty Years Ago, the Dodgers Toured Japan and Changed Baseball Forever”. The article by Brad Lefton focuses on the friendship that started between the O’Malley family and the Tokyo Yomiuri Giants, as the National League Champion Dodgers made the 19-game, month-long tour throughout Japan in the fall of 1956. Since that trip, the friendships continued to grow as the numerous cultural exchanges advanced. When Dodger President Peter O’Malley made the free agent signing of Japan-born pitcher Hideo Nomo in 1995, baseball would never be the same in the two countries.