Thursday, June 18, 2015

Eiji Sawamura Footage Found

So my dad showed me this NHK documentary the other day about how an important two minute clip from the 1930's emerged.

That two minute clip showed none other than a few minutes of the 1936 日本一決定戦 or the predecessor to the Nippon Series (the World Series equivalent in the Japanese leagues). In it, it featured a few moments such a sort of play at the plate but more importantly it featured what appears to be pitching legend Eiji Sawamura throwing a pitch.

For those of you who don't know, Eiji Sawamura was one of the best pitchers in Japan in the pre-WWII era. He threw the first no hitter in Japan, he struck out Babe Ruth and other notable major leaguers when Americans came to Japan to play exhibition games, and is regarded as one of the best pitchers in Japanese baseball history.

In Japan the Eiji Sawamura award is named after him and given to the best pitcher in the league that year (it's essentially the Japanese equivalent of the Cy Young award in America) .

I haven't been able to see the two minute clip yet (although I'm sure I'll come across it soon) but it appears to show Eiji Sawamura pitching with a different formation than how people once thought he threw.

Scan Courtesy of This Card Is Cool

You see the photographs of Sawamura about to pitch still in existence show him with a high leg kick, so a lot of people assumed that was how he pitched. However the video shows that his leg kick wasn't nearly as high. In the documentary NHK spoke with a man who saw Sawamura pitch and said that the pitching motion in the video is exactly how he remembered seeing Sawamura throw. It's also Sawamura in his prime, as his arm was basically ruined in the wars he later fought in.

This kind of lost treasure popping up is exactly why it's fun to be a baseball fan in this day and age. You never know what's going to pop up. Sawamura pitching, DiMaggio in color, who knows, we might even see Honus Wagner footage!

The rest of the documentary talked about how several of the players who played in the 1936 series later went off to the Second Sino-Japanese War and the Pacific War. Some, like Sawamura, died during battle. Other came back injured and were never able to resume their baseball careers. It's quite sad really. People like Ted Williams or even Christy Matthewson are the exception, not the norm.

This turn of events also reminded me that I do not have a single Sawamura card in my collection. Which is pretty much a crime. I'll have to look for something good the next time I go to Japan.

As always thanks for stopping by and take care :).


  1. I didn't understand a word, but I really like old timey baseball video. Really, really cool!

    You're right, there's no big leg kick at all. Perhaps he changed his mechanics as he aged? Or maybe he was dealing with a tight hamstring? Ah, it doesn't matter. Still really great. Thanks for sharing!

    1. He probably did change his mechanics after the wars ruined his arm but I'm not sure if any of them involved his lower half. He didn't really get a chance to "age" though.

      And thanks Tom :).

  2. This is very cool. Thank you for sharing.