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Abe Isoo and the Waseda Baseball Club

Waseda University Archives
Akira Takahashi

In May 1899, Doshisha Junior and Senior High School Vice Principal Abe Isoo became a lecturer at Tokyo College (Waseda University’s predecessor). Abe later became a Waseda faculty member at the political science and economics department where he gave lectures on social policy and English-based lectures as part of Waseda’s advanced preparatory curriculum. Abe was one of Waseda’s most prominent professors in the Meiji and early Taisho periods and occupied key positions such as Dean of Waseda’s first School of Political Science and Economics and University Vice President. When discussing Abe and his activities at Waseda, one cannot help but mention his role as manager of the Waseda Baseball Club.

Photo taken in 1905 to commemorate the Waseda Baseball Club’s first American Tour

Apart from a period when Abe became Dean of Waseda’s athletics department, Abe was manager of the Waseda Baseball Club since its inception in 1901 until 1926, and dedicated a tremendous amount of energy towards the Club’s success.

As club manager, Abe watched over practice sessions while fulfilling his duties as an instructor. He was committed to providing the Club with new opportunities and in 1905 made the team’s first American Tour a reality. During his time as manager, Abe oversaw the first Waseda vs. Keio University baseball game as well as the establishment of the Tokyo Big 6 Baseball League – two traditions that continue to this day.

For Abe, the most important role as club manager was the cultivation of its members’ spirits.

Team photo taken at Stanford University

In his writing, “The Three Primary Virtues of Baseball,” Abe wrote, “I have communicated to the team the importance of cultivating and strengthening the spirit.” He emphasized two major points. “The first is to fight with the same passion throughout the entire match.” In other words, you should give it your all until the very end no matter the circumstances and never “abandon hope.” “The second is to avoid placing all importance on winning or losing.” For Abe, the importance of competition was not the act of winning or losing, but the act of calmly committing your spirit until the very end.

Manager Abe used baseball as a way to encourage all students to maintain a calm spirit and overcome difficulties in the game of life.

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