From Osaka to Cooperstown

Gates_90.jpgBy Jim Gates

As mentioned in my previous blog, it is our great pleasure to host visitors from all over the world. Just this past weekend, we had a very special visit by a gentleman from Osaka, Japan, Dr. Satoshi Imazato. His arrival, along with two friends Masaki Funatsu and Kiyoyuki Arikawa, was for the primary purpose of spending some time reviewing a collection of material which had been donated by his father, Dr. Jun Imazato, during the 1960s.

12-18-09-Gates_Imazato.jpgThe elder Imazato practiced family dentistry in Japan, but spent much of his free time becoming an expert on Major League Baseball. Over the years he became instrumental to the development of the professional game in Japan, and also acted as a liaison between Major League Baseball and their professional counterparts in his homeland. 

Conversant in English, Dr. Imazato would listen to major league games on the Armed Forces Radio Network and would keep a detailed set of scorebooks. He would also acquire English language baseball articles and would translate them into Japanese script for publication to a growing baseball audience in Japan. Over the years, many of these items made their way across the Pacific and into the archive of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, including his scorebooks from the 1961 season, Japanese script translations of American baseball articles, along with a small collection of snapshots taken of Dr. Imazato engaged with a variety of Japanese baseball personalities.

Jun Imazato passed away in 2003, and this visit by his son Satoshi was very much a pilgrimage to pay homage to the man who not only played an important role in Japanese baseball, but who also taught him so much about the game. It is not an exaggeration to say that the early work of Dr. Jun Imazato helped to pave the way for the close relationship that now exists between the professional baseball leagues of these two nations, and we are pleased to be able to preserve the work of this Japanese baseball pioneer.

As for our special visitor, we were pleased to show our collections to Dr. Satoshi and his friends, and we hope they can make a return visit very soon.

Jim Gates is the librarian of the National Baseball Hall of Fame Library.

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