IU Baseball goes to…Japan! Part 1

It has been such an exciting time for IU baseball, what a terrific season! This – along with a recent donation – has prompted me to share a story about another exciting time in IU baseball history.

In December 1921, IU’s baseball coach George Levis received the following letter and proposition from Waseda University’s Iso Abé, Professor of Economics and Sociology:

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The accompanying agreement stated Waseda would pay $11,500 towards the IU team’s traveling expenses, as well as hotel and transportation costs associated with traveling to and from the hotel and ball field! In exchange, Abé proposed IU pay the Waseda baseball team $1,300 when they in turn visited in 1925, as well as the hotel costs for one night in Bloomington. Not a bad deal, right? Right. So university administrators made quick work of figuring out the logistics of such a trip, lining up transportation, securing passports, chaperones, etc.

On March 28, the baseball team began their journey, departing Bloomington via the Monon at 11:30 AM.

IU Baseball heads to the Far East! At the Bloomington train station, March 28, 1922. (Back Row, L to R) Joseph Sloate, Emmons Clay, Clarence E. Edmondson, Mrs. Clarence E. Edmondson, William Lowe Bryan, Mrs. George Levis, Coach George Levis, Leonard Conrad Ruckelshaus, Walter Wichterman, Ward Gilbert, and Robert Kidd. (Front Row, L to R) Rankin Denny, Assistant Coach Roscoe “Cow” Minton, Harry Gause, Leland Macer, Harold Lynch, and Dorsey Kight. Captain James Walker is not pictured.

They traveled across country as minor celebrities to their destination, Seattle, where they would depart for Japan on the SS Keystone State on April 1 to the University of Washington baseball team’s crooning of farewell songs.

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So they were off. The baseball team, chaperones, and then these fellas, “Four I.U. ‘Bums'”. Recognize any of those names? How about #2, the “Chief Bell Boy” of the ship?

The trip took over 2 weeks. Several of the landlubbing Hoosiers suffered terribly from seasickness. Player Leonard “Ruck” Ruckelshaus recorded in his diary, “[Emmons] Clay, Mr. and Mrs. Levis, Mrs. Edmondson, Joe Sloate, and Doresey Kight were very sick. Clay… said he would not cross the ocean again if they made him the Ambassador of England.” But they made it…minus one poor sailor who had a fatal accident and the boys stood by as witnesses to his sea burial.

IU Baseball in Japan…to be continued! 

Author- Dina Kellams

Director, Indiana University Archives. For more great IU history, follow us on Twitter @iubarchives or Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/IUBArchives/

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