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Ripken Visited China earlier this month


osfansince85

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I just came across an article from the Washington Post that talks about Ripken going to Shanghai to spread the game of baseball etc...and I read a part of the article that blew me away.

"If the boys and girls chosen to experience his pitch had little idea what the sport was about, it was because only about 50,000 of China's 1.3 billion people have played the game, according to the China Baseball Association. There are 20 baseball diamonds in the entire country."

My question is...how is it that Japan can have such a passion for the yet, only 20! baseball diamonds can be found in China??? I realize they are two completely different cultures and people often mix the two up, but seriously, 20??? Anyone know?

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IMy question is...how is it that Japan can have such a passion for the yet, only 20! baseball diamonds can be found in China??? I realize they are two completely different cultures and people often mix the two up, but seriously, 20??? Anyone know?

I don't know why we'd expect otherwise. Why would they have baseball diamonds? Just a few years ago, we were capitalist running dogs, you think Mao wanted to build ball fields? He was worried about dissing us and getting food to everybody. He cared about various things, but worrying about their lack of baseball infrastructure wasn't on the list.

One problem with baseball is that you need special stuff. With soccer, all you need is a ball and some room outside. Baseball requires special stuff. Not near as much as tackle football, but a whole lot more than soccer.

As for Japan, we had a zillion GI's there forever. They were all over the place, and they played baseball in their spare time. (Although, I'm really not sure if Japan played baseball before that, I just don't know.)

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I don't know why we'd expect otherwise. Why would they have baseball diamonds?

The only motivation which I can think of, prior to baseball becoming an Olympic sport, was to counter the Taiwanese domination of Little League baseball. It must be a little humiliating to the Red Chinese to have the Taiwan team have a far superior reputation internationally in anything.

However, that's a highly speculative motivation. I suspect the Red Chinese were bothered a lot more by the Taiwanese superiority in technology and trade, although the Reds are closing in on the one and far surpassed Taiwan long ago in the other. Pretty soon, they may take over the lead in baseball as well. It will be a huge propaganda coup for the regime if their team beats the Taiwanese some day.

As for Japan, we had a zillion GI's there forever. They were all over the place, and they played baseball in their spare time. (Although, I'm really not sure if Japan played baseball before that, I just don't know.)

Good guess, but not correct, according to Wikipedia

The sport of baseball was introduced to Japan in 1872 by Horace Wilson, and the first formal team was established in 1878. It has been a popular sport ever since. It is called 野球 (やきゅう; yakyū) in Japanese, combining the characters for field and ball.

Hiroshi Hiraoka, who was in America studying engineering, introduced the game to his co-workers at Japan’s national railways in 1878. He and his coworkers created the first baseball team the Shimbashi Athletic Club and dominated other teams which popped up in Japan. However it wasn’t until the team from Tokyo University started playing when the sport took hold in Japanese Culture. In 1896 the team defeated an American team from the Yokohama Country and Athletic Club 29 to 4. It was the first recorded international baseball game in Asia. After that defeat several other colleges in Japan picked up the sport and it quickly spread throughout Japan. Since then teams from Japan have crossed the ocean to learn from their American counterparts. Waseda University was one of the first college teams to cross the ocean to improve their skills (SABR). In 1905 the team traveled to the United States where they played college teams from around the U.S. It wasn’t before long that several other universities in Japan started making similar trips. From that point on the baseball phenomenon in Japan was complete with U.S. baseball teams traveling to Japan for games.

In 1913 and in 1922, American baseball stars visited Japan and played games against university students. They also held clinics on technique. A retired major league player, Herb Hunter, made eight trips to Japan from 1922 to 1932 organizing games and coaching clinics.

It is played widely in junior and senior high schools.

I think I had a vague recollection that baseball was big in Japan prior to the occupation, but it took a google to bring me up to speed.

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"If the boys and girls chosen to experience his pitch had little idea what the sport was about, it was because only about 50,000 of China's 1.3 billion people have played the game, according to the China Baseball Association. There are 20 baseball diamonds in the entire country."

My question is how they got 50,000 people to play baseball on only 20 fields.

If baseball is a really recent thing in China, with most of these fields built for the run-up to the Olympics that's a lot of usage. If half of those 50k are playing currently, that's 1250 players per baseball diamond. If a team has 15 people, that's 83 teams per diamond. Even if you're maxing out field usage every day each team could only play once every week or two.

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I don't know why we'd expect otherwise. Why would they have baseball diamonds? Just a few years ago, we were capitalist running dogs, you think Mao wanted to build ball fields? He was worried about dissing us and getting food to everybody. He cared about various things, but worrying about their lack of baseball infrastructure wasn't on the list.

Mao did more than just not care about baseball, he specifically banned it. He called it a "bourgeois indulgence."

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My question is how they got 50,000 people to play baseball on only 20 fields.

Most of the baseball I've played in my lifetime was actually played in a "field", as opposed to a "diamond". My guess is that a lot of baseball was played in sandlots and the Chinese equivalent of cow pastures, rather than on one of the 20 plots of ground that were actually laid out as baseball diamonds.

Of course, technically, most of the "baseball" I've played was actually softball, but that's another story. :)

So bad math and low frequency of play are possible explanations, but the definition of "diamond" is another.

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...As for Japan, we had a zillion GI's there forever. They were all over the place, and they played baseball in their spare time. (Although, I'm really not sure if Japan played baseball before that, I just don't know.)

As a kid I read the biography, Moe Berg: Athlete, Scholar, Spy. In it, the third string catcher went on a barnstorming trip with other major leaguers through Japan in 1934. During the tour, Berg took every opportunity to slip away and take movies-the cover was that they were for newsreels-which were later screened by Berg for our military as it prepared for WWII bombing raids.

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