Thursday, June 13, 2013

Pirates' "inferior drawing power" scuttles trip to Japan (in 1965).

On June 14, 1965, the St. Petersburg Times told us "Japanese Cancel Pirate Post-Season Ball Tour", a story from wire reports about the cancellation of a biannual fall exhibition between selected Japanese and Major League teams.
Japanese sponsors have canceled a scheduled postseason tour of the Pittsburgh Pirates to Japan this fall because of the fifth-place National League team's "inferior drawing power" here, an official of the Tokyo sponsoring organization said yesterday.

Sotaro Suzuki, an adviser on baseball affairs for the Tokyo newspaper Yomiuri, also disclosed yesterday that Ford C. Frick, the American baseball commissioner, had rejected a Japanese proposal last fall that the series winners in both countries play in Japan for the first "world championship" this year.

Suzuki said that Frick called the plan "premature" when it was advanced by Japanese organized baseball.

To import the Pirates to play against Japan's best would be a "suicidal" business proposition, Suzuki declared.

Suzuki said Yomiuri and a rival Tokyo newspaper, Mainichi, have taken turns in paying the expenses of a visiting major league team every two years since 1956. Last year's tour, for which it was Yomiuri's turn to pick up the tab, was postponed because of the Olympic Games in Tokyo last October.

Suzuki indicated that the Tokyo organization would have preferred the Los Angeles Dodgers for the tour this fall, and had made overtures to Walter O'Malley, the Dodger president. Suzuki said he had suggested to O'Malley that he seek Frick's approval for the trip, but the proposal had apparently failed.
A different version of the story had the headline pictured above. (Some imperfect scanning means that there are two page 59s included in the June 14 edition, with two different titles).

An article found in the June 17 Lodi News-Sentinel says
The Pittsburgh Pirates will be invited by the Homiuri [sic] newspaper to play post season goodwill games next year in Japan only if they win the National League pennant in 1965.
The Pirates were 29-28 on June 14, 1965, and their roster that year had three Hall-of-Famers. Of four teams who toured Japan previously---1962 Detroit Tigers, 1960 San Francisco Giants, 1958 St. Louis Cardinals, 1956 Brooklyn Dodgers---only the Dodgers made the World Series in the current season or the year before.

Their "inferior drawing power" wasn't really why the series was cancelled. A month earlier, Commissioner Frick threatened, on his part, cancellation of the series over stalled contract negotiations for Masanori Murakami, a Japanese pitcher who was claimed by both the San Francisco Giants and the Nankai Hawks.

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