The Old Ball Game


An American dream can be defined through an examination of the American
lifestyle, and by picking out the most common themes. The most common themes
Americans associate with are the basics: graduating at the top of the class,
finding a high-paying job, settling down with the perfect spouse, a house in the
suburbs with a white picket fence, two children running through the yard chasing
the dog and of course apple pie and baseball.
Yes, baseball is considered by many to be part of the American dream.
It is through baseball that many can relive their childhood. It has been the
one daily and constant event that the American society depends on to be there
during every summer night. The annual fall classic, the World Series, catches
the attention of the entire country. Like the New York Yankees, baseball has
become a part of America.
After World War II, many countries were completely demolished physically
and mentally. Among these countries was Japan. Countless numbers of Japanese
people were dead, and land, buildings, and entire cities were destroyed. For
the first time in Japan\'s history, their "God" had spoken to the public
destroying his immortal reputation. During the postwar years, Japan looked to
the major powers of the world to develop a foundation for a new country.
Included in this foundation was a need for new ideas and dreams. Of course
Japan did not completely erase thousands of years of tradition and culture, but
Japan did take many international ideas and transformed them into her own. In
the Movie Mr. Baseball, a Japanese woman describes Japan\'s borrowing techniques.
"Japan takes the best from all over the world and makes it Hers" (Welles).
Included in the world powers of the time was America; therefore, Japan borrowed
several ideas from the United States. One such idea just happened to be
America\'s National pastime, baseball.
The history of Japanese baseball dates back to the middle 1800\'s. They
"adopted baseball from the U.S. as early as 1873" (Constable 23), but the spark
for baseball ignited during the post war occupational years. A foreign student
from Japan explains, "The thousands of American troops stationed in Japan after
the war kindled the passion for baseball that was lacking before the war"
(Akutsu). The American soldiers showed the Japanese the American ways of
baseball, and the popularity of Japanese baseball has skyrocketed from that time
on. Baseball in Japan has reached the top level with its professional standings.
Many other countries throughout the world have tried to establish the American
sport of baseball but "Japan is the only country in the world to have
developed a real enthusiasm for baseball outside the context of American culture
and political domination" (Tasker 30).
Why would the Japanese be searching for a new "pastime" or dream to take
over their country? George Constable, a critic of baseball in Japan, explains,
"The Japanese are finding increasing time to participate in a variety of leisure
activities, including several sports from the United States. Among the most
popular is baseball" (24). The people of Japan are swallowing up this new
obsession. If they are not playing the game professionally, they are finding
ways to become a part of baseball. Constable says, "Today the game has so many
players that public playing fields must be booked a month or two in advance.
Baseball is also Japan\'s leading spectator sport with 15 million people a year
attending professional games" (23).
Japan has taken the American dream and shaped it to fit their basic mold.
The Japanese are known throughout the world for being extremely dedicated to
their work. This dedication has spread to their baseball. Where Americans look
at baseball as fun and entertainment the Japanese think of baseball as work. It
is expected that with the birth of a new "pastime", excitement and interest will
follow. No one in the U.S. expects a new trend, especially in the form of
recreation, to be effected by the work ethic, but Japanese standards expect the
most out of every activity including recreation. Even when baseball was center
stage in the United States, it was in no way related to the work place; almost
the direct opposite. The Japanese have "transformed America\'s pastime into a
game that mirrors their obsession with hard work and harmony. The consequences
are often alarming" (Whiting 76). Whiting is implying that Japan\'s work ethic
combined with America\'s dream of baseball could overrun the American version.
Baseball is taken so seriously in Japan that even the corporations owning the
teams enforce the relationship between baseball and work. "Japanese teams
assume