Baseball magnates, managers, stars and journeymen have taken the game around the world, beginning in the late 1880s, with major jaunts occuring throughout the Twentieth Century. The game has been taken to England, France, Egypt, Japan, Australia and to other corners of the globe. Presented here are postcards, photographs, books, programs and other ephemera from many of these trips.
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Albert Spalding took his Chicago White Stockings on a tour of four continents to do battle with a team of All-Americans.
Their adventures were captured in a richly-illustrated 1889 book by Harry Clay Palmer, Frank Richter and others, entitled "Athletic Sports in America, England and Australia."
The 1913-14 World Tour marked the first time that big baseball stars toured Japan, with John McGraw and Charles Comiskey helming a crew that included Tris Speaker, Buck Weaver, Jim Thorpe and others.
Several amateur and college teams toured Japan in the early 1900s.
Here are some examples of postcards featuring the Seattle Asahis, as well as University of Chicago doing battle on the ballfield with Waseda.
In 1920 a team of lesser major and minor leaguers toured Japan. The tour included Herbert Hunter, who would go on to lead similar visits in 1922 and 1931, along with other coaching trips.
The 1922 Herb Hunter All Stars toured Japan with such stars as Casey Stengel, Waite Hoyt, George "Highpockets" Kelly, Luke Sewell, Irish Meusel, Amos Strunk and others.
This team became the first with major leaguers to lose a game to its Japanese hosts.
In 1928, Herb Hunter returned to Japan with just three other players: Ty Cobb, Bob Shawkey and Fred "Bootnose" Hofman.
The players donned local uniforms and joined Japanese teams for these contests.
Herb Hunter led another full-scale tour to Japan in 1931, bringing with him such top stars as Lou Gehrig, Lefty Grove, Mickey Cochrane, Frankie Frisch, Rabbit Maranville, Al Simmons and George Kelly.
The 1934 Tour of Japan is the most well-known of all the tours, as it was graced by the presence of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Lefty Gomez, Charlie Gehringer, Lefty O'Doul, Moe Berg and others.
This time, the tour was led by Connie Mack and not Herb Hunter.
In 1908, the sporting goods company Reach organized a tour of Japan, China, Phillipines, Hawaii.
When the Reach All-Americans took the field in Asia, it marked the first time major leaguers played in Japan, pre-dating a long run of successful Japanese tours.
THE BEAUTY OF JAPANESE BASEBALL
The Japanese have embraced baseball completely, almost immediately following its introduction to the game in 1872 by an American teaching in Tokyo. During the early 1900s, the World Tours and Tours of Japan by American amateur, university and professional teams led to increased enthusiasm for the game and production of some of the most beautiful postcards depicting Japanese amateur high school, university and local teams.
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...AND THEN THERE'S BABE
No other sports figure of the time captured American -- and Japanese -- attention quite like Babe Ruth. This classic Japanese postcard of Babe Ruth was issued in 1929 by Shonen Club (Boys' Club) Magazine. Ruth is referred to as the "Home Run King" in Japanese on the card below.
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