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(Bottom) 1881 Shinbashi Athletic Club.  Mr. Hiraoka is in the middle of the center line. (C)The Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
Hiroshi Hiraoka関連写真
(Bottom) 1881 Shinbashi Athletic Club.  Mr. Hiraoka is in the middle of the center line. (C)The Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
Hiroshi Hiraoka関連写真
(Bottom) 1881 Shinbashi Athletic Club. Mr. Hiraoka is in the middle of the center line. (C)The Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

Hiroshi Hiraoka


  • Biography
1856-1934. Industrialist. Founder of Japanese baseball. Hiraoka went to America in 1871 and studied railway technology while working for train manufacturers in Boston and Philadelphia. When he returned to Japan in 1876, he brought with him some baseball equipment as souvenirs from America and later formed Japan’s first baseball team, the Shimbashi Athletic Club. He made a significant contribution to the development of baseball in Japan and was the first to enter the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame in 1959, with the man who founded the professional baseball team, the Yomiuri Giants, Matsutaro Shoriki. As he built his fortune by starting up a private vehicle manufacturing company, the Hiraoka Factory, he established the Tomei School of Samisen music, painted works as an artist, and had great knowledge about items from the Edo era. His life ended when he was 77; he had been a person of many talents and hobbies.

  • Association with Minato City
Formed Japan’s first baseball team, the Shimbashi Athletic Club

Hiraoka became a regular player for a baseball team while he was working at a factory in Boston and was a skilled pitcher who could throw curveballs. After returning to Japan, he joined the Railway Bureau of the Ministry of Engineering through an introduction by the politician Hirofumi Ito, who later became the first prime minister of Japan, and when he started working at the Shimbashi Factory, he formed Japan’s first baseball team, the Shimbashi Athletic Club, in 1878, with his colleagues and students. The uniform, consisting of a white cap, knickers, and red socks, was very fashionable back then. It is said that the curveballs thrown by the coach and pitcher Hiraoka were feared as “Makyu” (Magic Balls). The poet Shiki Masaoka also learned baseball from Hiraoka when he was in a baseball club at Ikko.

References
Asahi Jinbutsu Jiten (Asahi Biographical Dictionary) Asahi Shimbunsha)
Nihon de Hajimete Curve wo Nageta Otoko (The First Man in Japan to Throw a Curveball) (Yasunori Suzuki and Kenji Sakai / Shogakukan)

  • Related Publications
Baseball Soseiki (The Genesis of Baseball) (Yasuki Saeki / Shincho Sensho)
Baseball to Nihon Yakyu (Baseball and Japanese Baseball (Kazuo Sayama / Chuko Shinsho)
Nihon de Hajimete Curve wo Nageta Otoko (The First Man in Japan to Throw a Curveball) (Yasunori Suzuki and Kenji Sakai / Shogakukan)
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