Spring is in the air today, and baseball season is officially underway! To celebrate, we're highlighting a fascinating scrapbook recently acquired by the University Archives from the Department of Physical Education and Athletics. The scrapbook was made by Glen S. Roberts, class of 1911 and pitcher for the Chicago Maroons. Roberts traveled with the Maroons to Japan and the Philippines in 1910 for the first in a series of goodwill exhibition games between the University of Chicago and Waseda University in Tokyo. Between 1910 and 1936 the Waseda and U of C teams played one another every five years, alternating between Chicago and Japan. In 2008 the Maroons returned to Waseda for a three-game series, nearly 100 years after Glen S. Roberts and the 1910 team first stepped onto the Waseda baseball diamond.
The first trip to Waseda was arranged by Professor Alfred Place, who was a graduate and former athlete of the University of Chicago, and a faculty member of Waseda University. On September 10, 1910, twelve members of the University of Chicago baseball team boarded an 8,000-ton steamer for their voyage to Japan. Their entire trip would take four months and cover over 19,000 miles. The Maroons arrived in Tokyo on September 26, 1910 to a large welcoming crowd of students, photographers, and reporters, and were carried by rickshaw and train to the Imperial Hotel where they would be headquartered for a month. They enjoyed many receptions, dinners, and tours throughout their stay in Tokyo, and played seven games in three weeks against Waseda and Keio in front of enthusiastic crowds of nearly 12,000 people. Three additional games were played in Osaka, followed by a nine-day trip to Manila and four more exhibition games.
According to Robert W. Baird, a member of the 1910 baseball team, the games were marked by a spirit of friendliness and sportsmanship. In a 1976 article for the Maroon, Baird remembered that "in one of the tight games Orno Roberts was involved in a very close play at first base in which both he and the baseman were thrown to the ground. Immediately each man got to his feet, bowed to each other, and began to brush the dirt from the other's uniform."
Glen Roberts' scrapbook is full of newspaper clippings, photographs, and ephemera from this exciting trip. This is a wonderful addition to our growing collection of Waseda souvenirs - a collection that includes game balls and a beautiful kimono. On opening day, we invite you to turn a few pages of Roberts' scrapbook and see how America's love of baseball can transcend culture and time.
Photograph of Glen S. Roberts.