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Saturday, May 26, 2018

1934 Autographed Touring MLB Team Photo Sold For $42,000


As my regular readers are aware, I enjoy the game of baseball.

I enjoy watching it at home, watching it at the stadium, coaching my kid’s house league and Select teams, reading books on it, and basically anything to do with the history of it. I never played it in a league, except as an adult…

And this is me - a hockey first guy, even though I played and coached soccer as the main sport. I also did judo. Oh… and kyudo and kendo in Japan, and finally taekwondo a few years ago (blowing out my meniscus).

I'm a bad mutha- shut yo mouth.

But lest you think I’m just a dumb jock, I did teach piano and clarinet, and can play all woodwinds, brass and keyboards.

Anyhow… baseball… it’s May… when a Toronto Blue Jays baseball fan is already convinced the season is over.

But this is a blog about Japan.

I’ve written about baseball in Japan circa 1934 before: HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE

Why 1934? Well, that was when a Major League Baseball team of All-Stars toured Japan.

It featured, such players as:
  • Connie Mack, Manager;
  • Babe Ruth;
  • Jimmy Foxx;
  • Lou Gehrig;
  • Lefty Gomez;
  • Charlie Gehringer;
  • Earl Averill;
  • Bing Miller;
  • Moe Berg;
  • Earl Whitehill;
  • Frank Hayes;
  • Rabbit McNair;
  • Hal Warstler;
  • Joe Cascarella;
  • Clint Brown;
  • Lefty O'Doul, Coach;
  • John Quinn, Umpire.
Moe Berg was a catcher, who would later work as a spy for the U.S. against Japan. You can read his story at the 3rd HERE above.

Anyhow… what we have in the photo above is an original photo of that 1934 All-Star team, including a traveling umpire, which recently was sold at an auction for US $42,000.

What makes it even more special, is that the photo is signed by every person present.

The signatures all appear to be done in the same ink… which precludes the autograph hound (probably) from taking the pristine paper photograph with him from stadium to stadium to beg said player to sign the image.

I would imagine that the original photographer more than likely took the photo, developed it there in Japan, and printed a copy… probably just the one… and took it himself to be autographed by the still-touring ball players.

I don't know if this image was taken by Japanese photographer Fujita Mitsuhiko (surname first), who reportedly did go to the ball park and take photos, and return the next day with the photos to be signed by both the MLB and Japanese baseball players.

Fujita was the grandson of a famous Japanese businessman named Baron Denzaburo Fujita, who was the biggest, richest man in businessman in the country. Living from 1841-1912,  he traveled to Osaka in 1869 and soon started up the Fujita-Gumi Company. He became a buyer for the Government, as well as a mine operator, and made lots of money when Takamori Saigo revolted in Kagoshima in 1877. He was indicted for issuing counterfeit notes in 1879, but those charges were eventually dropped. He reorganized Fujita-Gumi into a partnership company and became its president.

As for his grandson, we do know that the Mitsuhiko visited alongside the traveling MLB team through Japan during this era.

Again... this is just a guess by me that the photo above was taken by Fujita Mitsuhiko.

Banzai,
Andrew Joseph

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