Using the legacy of Masanori “Mashi” Murakami -- the first Japanese Major Leaguer -- as a touchstone, Diamond Diplomacy follows the push and pull of U.S.-Japan relations played out on the baseball field.

The story of baseball in Japan begins in 1872 during the Meiji westernization when Civil War veteran Horace Wilson packs a bat and a ball into his steamer trunk and heads for Japan. More dramatic are the conflicts and resolutions surrounding World War II, when the two nations find common ground in their shared passion for the game. On the diplomatic front, the ever-popular Babe Ruth raises spirits during the 1934 Goodwill Tour, but these efforts fail to forestall war. While baseball and all things American are halted in Japan during the war, soon after, unofficial baseball ambassador Lefty O’Doul and Japanese-American lieutenant in the U.S. Occupation Forces Cappy Harada are called upon by Gen. Douglas MacArthur to implement the 1949 San Francisco Seals Goodwill Tour.


Barely a generation post WWII, a young Murakami becomes the first Japanese Major League Baseball player in 1964 almost by accident. A contract dispute ensues and begins a 30-year standoff between the professional baseball associations of Japan and the U.S. When Hideo Nomo finds a controversial loophole and signs with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1995, he becomes the second Japanese Major Leaguer and opens the door for the now steady stream of players from Japan.