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Babe Ruth in Japan, protestors storm Diet, Morinaga candy poisoned

by Edan Corkill

75 YEARS AGO

November 1934

Babe Ruth comes with baseball team

Friday, Nov. 2

The most formidable team of the world’s best baseball players to arrive in Japan disembarked from the palatial Canadian Pacific white-hulled liner, Empress of Japan, at Yokohama at 10 a.m. today for a series of games in the Empire, its first being against the Tokyo Club Sunday afternoon at the Meiji Shrine stadium.

Leading this aggregation of 15 aces of the American major leagues, including the one and only George Herman (Babe) Ruth, the Sultan of Swat, and Don Gehrig of the New York Yankees, was no less a person than Mr. Cornelius McGillicuddy, better known as Connie Mack, manager of the Athletics who has been actively connected with baseball for 51 years.

The visitors were given a great welcome. No sooner had the yellow quarantine flag been lowered than Ruth and the other players were stormed with requests for autographs.

“How many home runs are you going to hit in Japan,” Ruth was asked.

“I don’t know, but I am going to try to knock out as many as I can,” he said.

Monday, Nov. 5

Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Jimmie Foxx did not find the slow balls of three pitchers to their liking and failed to crash out homers, but the 56,000 or more baseball fans that packed the Meiji Shrine stadium Sunday sat back amazed all afternoon at the tremendous strength of Connie Mack’s American all-stars. The Tokyo Club nine, comprised of leading ex-university players, were slaughtered by 17 to 1.

With people standing in line for their tickets since Saturday night, every seat in the huge stadium was taken by noon Sunday, two hours before the game.

Saturday, Nov. 17

Babe Ruth has become quite the social lion of Tokyo. Together with other members of the American baseball team in Tokyo, he has been tea-ed, lunched, dined and danced, as never before.

It was a bright moment for several bellhops and girls of the Imperial Hotel when the baseball hero autographed his photograph for them the other day while having his shoes shined in its barber shop, and a Tokyo woman will always remember the time she had her hair bobbed — she sat in the next chair to the Babe.

Sunday, Nov. 18

The southpaw offerings of Lefty Hamazaki proved to be of no mystery to the portside sluggers of Connie Mack’s All-American professional baseball team and the latter routed the All-Japan nine by a 15 to 6 score Saturday afternoon at the Meiji Shrine stadium. It was the visitors’ final appearance in Tokyo (before they depart for matches in Omiya, Sendai, Nagoya and Osaka, then leave for Shanghai on Dec. 2).

Babe Ruth once again led the batting attack with two home runs. One of them came in the eighth inning with the bags loaded. He showed his aptitude to hit any kind of pitching by taking a healthy cut at Hamazaki’s slow teaser for a mighty drive into the right-field bleachers.

[The American team ultimately won all of their 18 tour games. Their first victim, Tokyo Club, went on to become Japan's first professional baseball team and is now known as the Yomiuri Giants.]

50 YEARS AGO

Saturday, Nov. 28, 1959

Demonstrators storm the Diet

Scores of policemen and demonstrators were injured late yesterday afternoon at a labor-sponsored rally held in front of the Diet building in opposition to the proposed revision of the Japan-U.S. Treaty.

Among the injured were 241 policemen and 432 demonstrators, with 12 from each side reported as seriously injured.

The campaign, including strikes and demonstration parades, was sponsored by the People’s Congress Against Revision of the Security Treaty — a group composed of the Socialist Party, the General Council of Trade Unions of Japan (Sohyo), and other organizations.

Yesterday’s campaign was aimed at blocking the pact revision and also at opposing the Japan-Vietnam reparations pact now in the Diet, supporting coal miners’ fights against mass dismissals and winning demands for yearend bonuses.

Shortly after 4 p.m., some 30,000 demonstrators forced their way into the Diet compound through the front gate and a head-on clash with police followed.

Ryogoro Kato, Speaker of the House of Representatives, promised Socialist Diet members that he would meet “a small number” of the demonstrators.

Shortly after 5 p.m., Akira Iwai, secretary general of Sohyo, urged the demonstrators to leave the Diet compound, saying the aim of the demonstrations had been accomplished.

25 YEARS AGO

Sunday, Nov. 11, 1984

Police alert over sweets poisonings

Some 40,000 policemen were on alert at stores across the country over the weekend for the fifth straight week to prevent Glico-Morinaga extortionists from again planting poisoned sweets on store shelves.

The uniformed and plain-clothesmen were assigned to track down the criminal group calling itself “The Man With 21 Faces,” which has tried to extort money from two major confectionary companies — Ezaki Glico and Morinaga.

Police said most officers were on weekend stakeout in the Kyoto-Osaka- Kobe region and in Nagoya and Tokyo, places where the extortionists have placed packets of sodium cyanide-laced Morinaga candy. In its latest letter to the mass media, the group said it would resume putting the tainted sweets on the shelves as soon as police stopped guarding stores.

In this feature, which appears in TimeOut on the third Sunday of each month, we delve into The Japan Times’ 113-year-old archive to present a selection of stories from the past. Stories may be edited for brevity.