There will be 2 new additions to the list of sports showcased in next years 2016 Summer Olympics. The 2 sports are rugby sevens, and golf. Rugby and golf actually aren’t new to the Olympics. The 2016 Summer Olympics will mark their return to the event. Fifteen-man rugby had previously been an Olympic sport, debuting […]
Tokyo was beaming in the coming-out party of the ages, the opening ceremony of the XVIII Olympiad, framing Japan as the rising star of Asia.
500 kilometers away in Osaka, the Nankai Hawks won the seventh game of the Japan Series over the Hanshin Tigers. The MVP of the series – Joe Donald Stanka.
I am a big baseball fan, but I drew a blank when I heard that name. Stanka graduated from Oklahoma State University and then spent a good part of his career in the minor leagues. He had a short turn in the big leagues with the Chicago White Sox, appearing in two games, 5.5 innings and had a 1-0 career record. Then he took off for Japan, signing with the Nankai Hawks (currently known as the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks) for the start of the 1960 season.
In 1964, when baseball was merely an exhibition sport in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, Joe Stanka had one of the greatest records in a baseball championship series you could imagine. In the seven-game series, he started four games and went 3-1, with three shut outs. In a word, he was dominant. Based on his 26-7 season, he went on to take MVP League honors, the first non-Japanese ever to receive that honor.
Stanka made $35,000 playing in Japan, and enjoyed his work-life balance. “There are six teams in the our league and three of them are in Osaka where we live,” he said, explaining why he likes to play ball in Japan. “I’m home most of the time.”
Baseball has a long history in Japan, from the time in 1934 when Babe Ruth played in an exhibition series in Japan, to when Hideo Nomo and Ichiro Suzuki exploded on the scene in Major League Baseball, to the recent years of Japan’s success in the World Baseball Classic Series.
But baseball is not an Olympic sport. And it wasn’t in 1964 either.
While baseball was not an official event at the Tokyo Olympics, it was in fact a demonstration sport. On October 11, 1964, a team of 21 American college ball players played a team of Japanese amateur all stars. And the American team went on to win 6 to 2 in front of 50,000 fans at Meiji Stadium.
That was the first of a series of exhibition games that the Americans would have with Japanese teams across the country, in cities like Numazu, Hamamatsu, Nagoya and Osaka. Japanese fans got to see future major leaguers like Chuck Dobson (Athletics), Gary Sutherland (a utility man who played for 7 major league teams), and Shaun Fitzmaurice (Mets), who hit the first pitch of the first exhibition game for a home run.
But the reality is, baseball was not an official event, and was thus given little attention by the press, which may have suited some of the players fine. As told in this interesting history, “Baseball in the Olympics“, by Peter Cava, the American players were not Olympians, and so did not live in the Olympic Village, or live by strict curfews.
The contingent wasn’t considered part of the official U.S. Olympic team. Instead of quarters in the Olympic village, the baseball players found themselves staying in an antiquated YMCA. Eventually the team moved to more suitable lodgings in a Tokyo hotel. They soon became the envy of the other American athletes. Unlike their brethren in the Olympic village, the baseball players weren’t subject to curfew. One team member recalls attending a party with sprinter Bob Hayes and Walt Hazzard of the basketball team. When Hayes and Hazzard had to leave early to make curfew, the baseball player continued to boogie to his heart’s content.
The overriding purpose
Yokohama Stadium, which staged the 2002 soccer World Cup final, will replace Japan’s new National Stadium as the venue for the 2019 Rugby World Cup final,
All I know is that rugby will be an Olympic sport in Rio for the first time. But they’re calling Japan’s last-minute upset of South Africa at the Rugby World Cup in England as the greatest Rugby World Cup shocker ever. Here is how The Guardian saw it.
The $2 billion price tag for the new National Stadium in Tokyo proved to be too high. The Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, faced down the president of the Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and former prime minister, Yoshiro Mori, and send the committee back to the drawing board. This decision effectively removed the possibility of the stadium debuting for the 2019Rugby World Cup, according to this Japan Times article.
No chess? Darn!!