October is World Series month, not only in the U.S., but also in Japan, where a nation of baseball addicts has adopted the American game with astonishing zeal. As these scenes of last year's Japanese world series show, the game and its fans in Osaka are essentially the same as they are in Chicago. The uniforms, dugouts and flag-decked stadiums of Japanese baseball all seem strikingly familiar to American visitors, as do the Pepsi-Cola vendors, the hot dogs, the popcorn and the booing of managers.
But there are differences, too. The Japanese clap politely at skillful plays, teams often burst into tears after winning crucial games, shamed managers have changed their names after bad seasons and fans write newspapers to suggest that the heads of poor clubs commit hara-kiri for having so offended their followers. Their world series itself is more lavishly staged than in the U.S. Lovely girls lead parades of players, there are gala firework displays, and brass bands play such favorite Oriental tunes as Frankie and Johnny.
There is excellent baseball, too—the equivalent of our high minor leagues. In the world series shown here a rubber-armed submarine pitcher, Tadashi Sugiura, pitched the upstart Osaka Hawks to four straight wins over the favored Tokyo Giants. Japanese baseball, or baseball anywhere, had never seen anything quite like it. Tokyo fans could be excused for repeatedly shouting "Yobomyo!" at their frustrated Giants. "Yobomyo," like the game, is an import. Japan's most expressive baseball epithet, it comes straight from Brooklyn.
Flowery opening of Tokyo games includes pretty girls and a bouquet for manager
Vendor with soft drinks picks way down aisle past old and young fans totally absorbed by game
Bright sunshades distributed by advertisers decorate a capacity crowd at Tokyo game
Like Dodger fans invading Yankee Stadium, Osaka rooters raise a din in Tokyo's Korakuen Stadium, and band (below), high in the stands, adds to bedlam
Dwarfed by huge baseball in Osaka outfield, brass section of band at Japan Series opener is half concealed by smoke screen from fireworks display