Nov 11, 1934: Japan's Cy Young
Submitted by BTGrimes on Sun, 11/11/2012 - 6:00am
Teen impresses American stars
SHIZOUKA, JAPAN - The Japanese equivalent of the "Cy Young" award is named after Eiji Sawamura. A display he put on on this date in 1934 is one reason why.
At the age of 17, and still in high school, Sawamura faced a team of American all-stars, several considered to be among the greatest in history - Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Jimmie Foxx. Sawamura entered the the game in the fourth, and pitched the rest of the way. In five innings, the teenager gave up just one run on five hits. The highlight was when he struck out Charlie Gehringer, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Jimmie Foxx in succession. Though Sawamura took the loss, he provided Japan with a moment of national pride.
Sawamura went on to pitch in Japanese professional baseball. He threw three no-hitters, finishing with a record of 63-22 with a 1.74 ERA, but his career didn't last long. He was killed during World War II in 1944 when his ship was torpedoed.
According to Joseph Reaves, author of Taking in a Game: a History of Baseball in Asia, Sawamura was scouted by the Pittsburgh Pirates before the War, but he was not interested. Sawamura's attitude was, "I hate America and can't make myself like Americans."
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