In the spring of 2008, the University of Chicago men’s baseball team went to Japan to play three exhibition games against its longtime international rival Waseda University. What was unique about this visit was that the last time these two teams played against each other was 1930. Last week I was at the athletic center on campus with my son where some great historic University of Chicago sports memorabilia is on display (including the first Heisman Trophy awarded to Jay Berwanger in 1935). In the display cases were some great memorabilia pieces from the Chicago vs. Waseda baseball series that ran between 1910 and 1930. The following is a description of the baseball trips to Japan (photo of description included in this post):
The University of Chicago baseball team traveled to Japan every five years between 1910 and 1930 as a guest of Waseda University. The year following each of the Maroons’ first four trips to Japan (1911, 1916, 1921, 1926), Chicago played host to Waseda. On its five overseas tours, Chicago faced Japanese college opponents, including Waseda and Keio, as well as all-star teams from Hawaii, China, the Philippines and Japan. The Maroons’ visits to Japan played a significant role in the development of Japanese baseball, as more than 20,000 fans attended the Chicago-Waseda games in Tokyo in 1930.
I have included several pictures with this post that I took via my phone through the glass display cases so I apologize for the glare. You can read more about the 2008 Chicago baseball trip to Japan and more on the history of these “exchanges” via two Chicago Maroon articles here and here. Additionally, you can view 38 photos throughout the years of these games in the University of Chicago Archival Photographic files here.