This Day In Babe Ruth History: Oct. 20, 1934

On October 20th, 1934, Babe Ruth and a group of MLB all-stars embarked on a baseball goodwill tour to Japan, leaving from Vancouver, CA.  The trip was a significant diplomatic event for the U.S. at the time and a contributing factor to the establishment of professional baseball in Japan.

In 1934, Matsutara Shoriki, who owned the Yomiuri Shinbun newspaper, decided to see just how popular and successful baseball could be with the Japanese population, by organizing the biggest exhibition with professional American players yet. In 1934, Connie Mack, the long-time manager of the Philadelphia Athletics, was asked to staff a team of some of the best players in Major League Baseball and bring them to Japan for an 18-game match-up against the Big-Six University League. Mack compiled an amazing roster of some of the best baseball talent in America, while Shoriki did the same with the team comprised of Japanese talent from the “Big Six”.

Besides the Babe, other Major League All-Stars on the team included: Charlie Gehringer (Detroit Tigers), Lou Gehrig (New York Yankees), Jimmie Foxx (Philadelphia Athletics) and Lefty Gomez (New York Yankees).

The team set sail on the Empress, a Glasgow-built liner that made regular trans-Pacific sailings between Vancouver, Hong Kong and Japan, the following day.  Below is a photo of Babe on the ship with his wife Claire and daughter Julia.  After Japan, the Ruth family continued on to other parts of Asia, as well as areas of Africa and Europe before returning home.

To learn about the barnstorming tour, visit the section of our site focused on the subject, as well as view as a great collection of photos of the trip from Julia Ruth Stevens’ collection.

Babe Ruth, Claire and Julia on Empress

Babe Ruth, Claire and Julia on the Empress


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