A special panel discussion was held on November 9, 2022 titled “150th Anniversary of the Introduction to Baseball to Japan.” The event was co-sponsored by the Consulate General of Japan in New York and the U.S.-Japan Council
The event featured Major League and Japanese professional baseball players, historians and others dedicated to the sport in Japan and the United States Panelists included Hideki Matsui, former Yomiuri Giants and New York Yankees player; Matt Murton, former Hanshin Tiger player; Josh Rawitch, President, Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum; and Brad Lefton, sports writer and baseball historian. The panel discussion was moderated by USJC Council Leader and Vice President of Japanese American Association of New York Susan McCormac.
The discussion focused on baseball and the role it has played in the 150 years of friendship between Japan and the U.S., and its impact on people-to-people relations. Through Matsui’s baseball foundation, Matsui believes that sharing the concept of “yakyu” or the Japanese way of baseball with young athletes also benefits the sport while building a player’s mindset.
Matt Murton’s shared his experiences during his time at the Hanshin Tigers. Fully embracing the Japanese lifestyle, fans and sport, his time in Japan has left an indelible mark in Murton’s heart. His fame and celebrity status still resonates at the Koshien Stadium, the stadium built to host the national high school baseball tournaments.
Josh Rawitch visited survivors of the 2011 Great Eastern Earthquake and Tsunami in Tohoku, bringing back inspiring and lifetime memories of the people. Brad Lefton shared the story of visiting the family of Horace Wilson, the man who is credited with introducing baseball in Japan.
The event celebrated 150 years of baseball – past, present and continued friendships between the panelists and the U.S. and Japan.