SHIZUOKA, Japan >> Kusanagi Stadium in Suruga ward, Shizuoka, is sometimes referred to as legendary.
If any fan of baseball in Japan isn’t sure why, two bronze statues fronting the stadium — and a five-minute walk from Ken Sogo Undojo Station on Shizuoka Railway Co.’s Shizuoka Shimizu Line — help explain why. They depict legendary Japanese pitcher Eiji Sawamura and the iconic Babe Ruth, known in Japan as a “god of baseball.”
Kusanagi Stadium became the stage for a pre-World War II game between Japanese and U.S. all-star teams. The contest pitted a then-17-year-old Sawamura, who later became a superstar for the Yomiuri Giants, against a powerful U.S. team featuring Ruth.
The 10th game of the second U.S. all-star tour of Japan was played in Shizuoka on a crisp autumn day on Nov. 20, 1934. The U.S. team had won all previous games, crushing Japan 21-4 in the ninth game.