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Kumeyasu Yajima - 1935 Tokyo Giants Player

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Kumeyasu Yajima - 1935 Tokyo Giants Player
I'm writing an article (actually a whole issue of my new baseball history journal "21" will be devoted to it) on the 1935 Tokyo Giants tour of the US, Canada and Mexico and am drawing a blank when it comes to any biographical info on an outfielder, Kumeyasu Yajima. He was a famed high school player, winning a 1926 championship with a walk off homer and was invited to be on the All-Japan all-stars in 1934 to oppose Babe Ruth and the other MLB stars when they toured Japan. I found that Yajima never played pro ball when the Japanese league was formed in '36 and that he died of disease in the war.

Does anyone have any information on this guy? I'm not sure where else to turn, I do not read Japanese and while I have a few aquaintences who are knowledgeable in Japanese baseball history, I don't want to overburdon their hospitality. I have corrosponded with Yoichi Nagata who wrote the book on the tour but I don't want to keep asking him for information, he has been so gracious already. I wish his book was in English!

Anyway, I hope you can steer me in the right direction. Also here is a link to my website if you'd like to see what I do:
Re: Kumeyasu Yajima - 1935 Tokyo Giants Player
[ Author: Guest | Posted: Jun 13, 2011 11:19 AM ]

Not much information is available after the formation of the league in 1936 except that when he died, his family name was Shigehara (繁原).

Here are some bullet points I gathered.
  • His high school team was a runner-up in the 1926 Spring Invitational. His walk-off homer came in the semi-final game.
  • He went to Waseda University [en Wikipedia] after high school and worked for Shimizu Corporation [en Wikipedia] after college.
  • He was a member of the Tokyo Club (1931-1933), a team the City of Tokyo sent to the Intercity Baseball Tournament [en Wikipedia].
Re: Kumeyasu Yajima - 1935 Tokyo Giants Player
[ Author: Guest | Posted: Jun 13, 2011 12:20 PM ]

Thanks, that is helpful. If his family name was Shigehara, then what is the name Yajima? I wonder if I had his full name as locating the date of his birth and death would be easier than trying to search for Yajima.

Strange he never played in the league, from the 12 box scores we looked at he batted around .280, 2nd best on the team after Karita.

I wonder if he was he part of the '36 tour of the US as well?
Re: Kumeyasu Yajima - 1935 Tokyo Giants Player
[ Author: Guest | Posted: Jun 13, 2011 11:59 PM ]

The Giants official page lists 1935 as the only year of Yajima's membership. So, no, he wasn't part of the 1936 tour.

My speculation follows hereafter.

As for the change of his name, the most likely scenario is that he married into his wife's family. That's how it works in Japan.

And why didn't he join the league? This is highly speculative, but, well, at the time, he was pushing 30 with a degree from a prestigious university and a secure job at a big company. It was unclear that playing sports professionally would be a viable option Japan. And, of course, draft (yep, different kind) was always a possibility, as war drums were already bagging in 1936.
Re: Kumeyasu Yajima - 1935 Tokyo Giants Player
[ Author: Guest | Posted: Jun 14, 2011 11:07 AM ]

I did not know that about marrying into your wife's family. My guess would have been he used an alias while playing ball and reverted to his family name after he gave up playing, so not to soil the name of his parents.

I also imagined age had much to do with not pursuing ball. I did not think about the draft, you have a good point there. You wouldn't happen to have come across any birth or death dated for Yajima? I'd like to include it on my illustration of him.

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Michael Westbay
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