Nearly 100 years ago, Chicago brought baseball to Waseda University in Japan. On March 21, the Maroons flew in for a rematch.
The University of Chicago’s baseball team is visiting Japan this week to honor a tradition that lasted from 1910 to 1936. The teams will commemorate the days when the Maroons, led by legendary coach Amos Alonzo Stagg, traveled by boat every five years for a series of games against Waseda, contributing significantly to the development of baseball in Japan.
The games pitting the Maroons against the Waseda team were a hit, attracting crowds of more than 20,000 by the 1930s. This year’s games are expected to attract even more spectators. The games are scheduled at Hiroshima City Stadium on March 23, Osaka Dome on March 24 and Seibu Dome in Tokyo on March 25.
The first baseball game in Japan took place in 1873, almost 40 years before Chicago’s arrival, but the Maroons left a lasting legacy: the Waseda team adopted Chicago’s own maroon and white colors for their uniforms. Waseda has become a top-ranked baseball team, reigning as the 2007 college champions and collecting 39 Tokyo Big6 Baseball League championships since 1925.
Japanese baseball is basically the same as its American counterpart, though both bat and ball are slightly smaller than their American cousins. In preparation for the games, the Maroons practiced with smaller bats. Coach Brian Baldea, who has won more games than any coach in Chicago’s history, says the team “is highly honored to participate in the series with Waseda University.”
“The opportunity for my players, assistant coaches and me to be a part of renewing this historic relationship is an honor that we will never forget.”