Sadly, the Hoosiers did not go forward to win the College World Series, but this in no way takes any of the shine off of their terrific season. Great job, guys!
So, would you like to hear more about the 1922 baseball trip to Japan?
The team arrived in Japan on Friday, April 14. They went through Customs, where the only problems they ran into was with the tobacco they were carrying. But these college men knew how to get around it — they passed off some of their cigarettes and cigars to the non-smokers of the group and stuffed their pockets with what they thought they could sneak in.
They made their way to the hotel via rikishas and settled in for the night. The next morning, after a hearty American-style breakfast, they stopped for a quick picture in front of the hotel before heading off to see the Waseda team in a game. “Ruck” reported in his diary that there was a crowd of about 7,000 at the game and when they arrived they were cheered by the crowd. “After the game we waited for the crowd to leave the park…but instead of leaving about 3,000 people surrounded us.” Baseball must have been huge in Japan at this time, as he reports the same numbers at their first practice the following day (as well as the same reception!)
The first game took place on April 22 in front of a large enthusiastic crowd but home team luck prevailed and Waseda won. The final record of the Waseda series: One victory, one tie, and five defeats. They lost all three games they played against Keio University but soundly defeated the semiprofessional Osaka All-Star team, 9-4.
Mr. Abé and the IU alumni served as excellent hosts for the team, ensuring they did some sightseeing and experienced Japanese traditions, such as the Japanese tea house. On May 10, Ruck reported they visited the largest temple in Japan, they toured five Imperial Palaces, saw the famous Cherry Dance, and walked by the base of Mount Fuji. To complete the trip, Japan scheduled a large earthquake during their stay. Edna Edmondson wrote about this experience in a series of articles she contributed about the trip to the The Arrow of Pi Beta Phi:
Tokyo even staged for us an earthquake, officially said to be the most severe in that city since 1894. We had already experienced several slight quakes since our arrival and when the first little shake came on this day we looked across the table at each other and smiled making mental note of one more experience to “tell the folks back home.” In a moment, however, this slight shaking increased to a violent jerking. This jerking gave way to a whipping motion as the earth rocked up and down, east and west, and north and south, accompanied by terrifying grinding, and groaning sounds as though the earth itself were writhing in agony.
Want to know more about this amazing trip? We have recently scanned the entirety of the IU administrative correspondence, but recent donations from the family of team member Leonard Ruckelshaus and Edna Edmondson have provided us with a tremendous amount of detail about the trip. Ruck’s diary begins on the day of departure and was faithfully written in through May 27. The donation also included a beautiful scrapbook full of photographs and memorabilia, and many of the photos have been scanned and added to the Archives Photographs Database. And as always, feel free to contact us to schedule a visit to look through materials yourself!
Oh how fun, Susan! Please send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org and I would be happy to point you to some other resources! One you and your aunt might enjoy is an online talk a colleague and I gave about the trip and some of the archival materials last year. It was recorded and can be accessed at https://go.iu.edu/3Xfg.
My grandfather Ward O. Gilbert played on the IU baseball team that went to Japan in 1922 so I would greatly appreciate more details about this trip! I would be so grateful for anything you could send to me by email or regular mail.
I am so happy that there was correspondence about this trip so that I can know more about my grandfather. I had always heard he had made this trip and have one photo of the team with the Indiana governor before their departure, but that’s all.
His daughter (my aunt) is 91 years old and still living. I know she would also be thrilled to have any information about her father.