Feb. 15, 2008
Chicago Baseball to Tour Japan
CHICAGO -- After a 78-year hiatus, the University of Chicago and Waseda University in Tokyo will renew their baseball rivalry with a three-game series in Japan as part of the Maroons’ annual spring break trip in late March.
At the invitation of Waseda, the Maroons will take on the 2007 Japanese college baseball champions at the Hiroshima City Stadium on Mar. 23, the Osaka Dome on Mar. 24, and the Seibu Dome in Tokyo on Mar. 25 as part of the university’s 125th anniversary celebration.
“The University of Chicago baseball team is highly honored to participate in the series with Waseda University,” said Head Coach Brian Baldea, the winningest coach in the school’s 116-year history. “Our universities share a significant part of history that is treasured by all of us. The opportunity for my players, assistant coaches, and me to be a part of renewing this historic relationship is an honor that we will never forget."
The Mar. 23 game in Hiroshima will mark the 11th meeting – and the first since 1936 – between Chicago and Waseda, both of which share a strong college baseball tradition.
Chicago played its first season of intercollegiate baseball in 1893 and was a member of the Big Ten Conference from 1896 to 1946. Between 1896 and 1913, the Maroons claimed five Big Ten championships. Chicago has competed at the NCAA Division III level since 1974 and under Baldea has finished .500 or better 12 times in the past 13 years.
Waseda fielded its first baseball squad in 1901. Four years later, it became the first Japanese baseball team to travel to the United States. As a member of the Tokyo Big6 Baseball League since 1925, Waseda has captured 39 league championships. This past summer, five Waseda players participated on the Japanese team that defeated the United States in the USA vs. Japan Collegiate All-Stars Series.
From 1910 to 1930, the Maroons traveled to Japan every five years for a series of games with Waseda. From 1911 to 1936, Chicago played host to Waseda at five-year intervals. Chicago’s visits to Japan played a significant role in the development of Japanese baseball and culminated with crowds of more than 20,000 witnessing the Chicago-Waseda games in 1930.
“We are looking forward to representing the University of Chicago while experiencing the great nation of Japan and competing with the premiere college baseball team in that country," said Baldea. "It will be the experience of a lifetime.”
"The University of Chicago has valued study abroad, and the Department of Athletics has been committed to a genuinely unique support of international team travel with teams competing in China, Australia, Italy, and Scotland during the past few years," said Director of Athletics Tom Weingartner.
"With this trip, we are honored to be the guests of Waseda University to renew a long-standing relationship and appreciate that our student-athletes will gain a special cultural understanding of the world through this kind of competition. It will be a remarkable experience – one they will carry with them always."
The morning after their final game in Japan, the Maroons will fly to Phoenix, Arizona, where they will play six games in five days against NCAA Division III opponents before returning to campus for the start of the spring quarter.