Deep devotion to the game of baseball has been tossed between the U.S. and Japan since its opening to the
West in the late 1800s, and mirrors profound shifts in diplomacy between the two nations. Diamond Diplomacy charts
this 150-year story revealing pivotal moments of an often-controversial duality that has existed throughout this history.
Using the legacy of Masanori “Mashi” Murakami – the first Japanese Major Leaguer – as a touchstone, Diamond Diplomacy follows the push and pull of U.S.-Japan relations played out on the baseball field. The story of baseball in Japan begins in 1872 during the Meiji westernization, when Civil War veteran, Horace Wilson packs a bat and a ball into his steamer trunk and heads for Japan. More dramatic are the conflicts and resolutions surrounding World War II, when the two nations find common ground in their shared passion for the game. On the diplomatic front, the ever-popular Babe Ruth raises spirits during the 1934 U.S. Goodwill Tour but these efforts fail to forestall war. While baseball and all things American are halted in Japan during the war, soon after, unofficial baseball ambassador Lefty O’Doul and Japanese-American lieutenant in the U.S. Occupation Forces Cappy Harada are called upon by General Douglas MacArthur to implement the 1949 San Francisco Seals Goodwill Tour. Barely a generation post WWII, a young Murakami becomes the first Japanese Major League Baseball player in 1964 almost by accident. A contract dispute ensues over the second season and begins a 30-year standoff between the professional baseball associations of Japan and the U.S. In 1995 Hideo Nomo finds a controversial loophole and signs with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He becomes the second Japanese Major Leaguer and opens the door for the now steady stream of players from Japan.
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Status: Diamond Diplomacy is currently in development and early production.
About the Filmmaker: Yuriko Gamo Romer is an award-winning filmmaker based in San Francisco. She directed and produced Mrs. Judo: Be Strong, Be Gentle, Be Beautiful, the only biographical documentary about Keiko Fukuda (1913-2013), the first woman to attain the 10th degree black belt in judo. Mrs. Judo premiered in 2012, broadcast nationally on PBS and screened at over 25 film festivals internationally. She holds a masters degree in documentary filmmaking from Stanford University where she was a National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Scholar, an American Association of Japanese University Women Scholar, and received a Student Academy Award Gold Medal for her thesis film Occidental Encounters.