Baseball in Wartime

Baseball's Greatest Sacrifice

 

Japanese Wartime Baseball

by Gary Bedingfield

During World War II, the Japanese professional league continued to play until August 1944. Just as in the United States, the game served as a major morale booster to civilians and servicemen, and despite being at war with the nation that introduced them to baseball, the Japanese people could not curb their insatiable appetite for the game. 

Professional teams such as Kyojin (Tokyo) and the Hanshin (Osaka) Tigers played 80-plus games a season between 1940 and 1943. However, the draw on manpower reduced teams to a 35-game season in 1944, playing one game every four days. By 1945 nearly all professional players from Japan's eight teams were in military service and 69 of them were killed, including national superstars Eiji Sawamura and Shinichi Ishimaru. 

I am proud to present the complete list of Japanese professional players killed between 1937 and 1945. I believe this is the first time the list has been displayed in English and I'm very grateful to Hirofumi Oda for his expert translation. 

 

Japanese Players Who Lost Their Lives Between 1937 and 1945

Last name

First name

Debut

Final season

Last team

Position

Amakawa

Seizaburo

1939

1940

Nankai

Pitcher

Aoki

Tsutomu

?

?

Hankyu

?

Aoshiba

Kenichi

1936

1938

Kyojin

Pitcher

Araki

Masakimi

1939

1939

Hankyu

Pitcher

Endoh

Chuujiro

1936

1939

Senators

Pitcher

Fukushi

Isamu

1938

1942

Asahi

Pitcher

Fushimi

Goro

1938

1939

Eagles

Catcher

Gotoh

Tadashi

1936

1936

Nagoya

1st base

Hara

Ichiro

1937

1938

Lion

Catcher

Hayashi

Yasuo

1942

1943

Asahi

Pitcher

Hirabayashi

Eiji

1941

1943

Hanshin

2nd base

Hirose

Shuichi

1941

1942

Kyojin

Pitcher

Ikeda

Hisayuki

1939

1943

Hankyu

Catcher

Ishii

Yutaka

1940

1942

Taiyo

1st base

Ishimaru

Shinichi

1941

1943

Nagoya

Pitcher

Itoh

Kentaro

1936

1943

Kyojin

Outfield

Itoh

Jinkichi

1939

1941

Hankyu

2nd base

Kageura

Masaru

1936

1943

Hanshin

Outfield

Kaino

Daichi

1938

1939

Nagoya

2nd base

Katoh

Nobuo

1936

1937

Tigers

2nd base

Kawamura

Tokuhisa

1936

1937

Hankyu

3rd base

Kitahara

Noboru

1941

1942

Nankai

2nd base

Kitoh

Kazuo

1936

1941

Nankai

Outfield

Kunihisa

Shoichi

1939

1942

Nankai

2nd base

Kura

Nobuo

1936

1939

Kyojin

Catcher

Kuwashima

Hajime

1941

1941

Hankyu

3rd base

Maeda

Kiyoshi

1936

1937

Nagoya

Outfield

Maekawa

Masayoshi

1942

1942

Hanshin

2nd base

Masano

Iwao

1938

1944

KinkiNippon

Pitcher

Masuda

Toshi

1942

1943

Nankai

2nd base

Matumoto

Riichi

1940

1943

Hankyu

1st base

Matushita

Shigeji

1941

1941

Hanshin

Outfield

Miwa

Hachiro

1939

1943

Hanshin

Pitcher

Miyaguchi

Yoshikichi

1938

1942

Nankai

Pitcher

Mori

Kunigoro

1939

1941

Hanshin

Outfield

Morita

Minoru

1939

1941

Taiyo

Outfield

Murakami

Shigeo

1940

1941

Asahi

Outfield

Muramatu

Chotaro

1939

1942

Taiyo

Outfield

Muramatu

Yukio

1939

1941

Nagoya

Pitcher

Murase

Ichizo

1938

1941

Hanshin

Short stop

Nagai

Takeo

?

?

Kyojin

?

Nakagawa

Miyoshi

1937

1941

Kurowashi

1st base

Nakamura

Saburo

1937

1940

Nagoya

2nd base

Nakamura

Masami

1943

1944

Kyojin

3rd base

Nakao

?

?

?

Senators

?

Naya

Yonekichi

1938

1938

Nankai

Outfield

Nishimura

Yukio

1937

1939

Tigers

Pitcher

Noguchi

Noboru

1941

1943

Hanshin

Short stop

Ogawa

Toshiyasu

1936

1936

Tigers

Catcher

Ohara

Toshio

1937

1938

Hankyu

Catcher

Ohta

Kenichi

1937

1940

Kurowashi

Outfield

Okada

Fukuyoshi

1940

1943

Yamato

2nd base

Okada

Muneyoshi

1936

1940

Hanshin

Short stop

Onodera

Hiroshi

1940

1940

Kurowashi

Pitcher

Oribe

Yoshizou

1939

1942

Taiyo

Outfield

Santa

Masao

1938

1939

Kyojin

Outfield

Sawamura

Eiji

1936

1943

Kyojin

Pitcher

Shimamoto

Yoshifumi

1936

1938

Hankyu

Catcher

Shintomi

Uzaburo

1939

1941

Hankyu

1st base

Shiraki

Kazuji

1937

1938

Nagoya

Outfield

Sugiyama

Toyoo

1942

1942

Yamato

1st base

Tabe

Takeo

?

?

Kyojin

?

Takano

Momosuke

1938

1938

Nankai

Outfield

Terauchi

Kazutaka

1937

1942

Yamato

Outfield

Tsuji

Genbei

1944

1944

Hanshin

Outfield

Ueda

Tadashi

1937

1942

Hanshin

Outfield

Watanabe

Shizuka

1943

1943

Asahi

Outfield

Yagi

Susumu

1942

1944

KinkiNippon

Catcher

Yoshihara

Masaki

1938

1941

Kyojin

Catcher


Japanese soldiers take time out to play baseball Baseball played by Japanese soldiers at a hopsital.

 

Kazuto Tsuruoka Michio Nishizawa Yasuo Hayashi Yoshiyuki Iwamoto
Kazuto Tsuruoka batted .275 with Nankai and led the league with 10 home runs in 1939. He spent the next six years with the Imperial Japanese Army. Michio Nishizawa
At 18, he was 20-10 with Nagoya in 1939. He served two years in the military during the war.
Yasuo Hayashi
In 1943, he was 20-11 with a 0.89 ERA for Asahi. Hayashi died in combat in 1944.
Yoshiyuki Iwamoto
Played for Nankai from 1940 to 1942. He then served with the military during the war.

Copyright © 2013 Gary Bedingfield (Baseball in Wartime). All Rights Reserved. 

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