Watch rare footage from 1927 of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig playing a game with Japanese-American All-Stars
By Gemma Kaneko
Before Travis Ishikawa was hitting walk off homers, before Kurt Suzuki found his place behind the plate, there were the Nisei Leagues. Nisei, which refers to second generation Japanese-Americans, weren't yet welcome in professional baseball, so, across the west coast, they carved out teams of their own.
During a 1927 barnstorming tour, Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig played an exhibition game with some of the league's All-Stars in Fresno, Calif. The Nisei League team played with Gehrig's Larrupin' Lous, defeating Ruth's Bustin' Babes 13-3. Though they can't tell you what "larrupin'" means, the Nisei Baseball Research Project can show you the only existing footage of that day:
"The first time I got up, I got a single. I was very fast and took my usual big lead off first. Ruth glanced at me and said, 'Hey, son, aren't you taking too much of a lead?' I said no. He called for the pitcher to pick me off. The pitcher threw and I slid behind Ruth. He was looking around to tag me and I already was on the sack. I think this made him mad. He called for the ball again. This time he was blocking the base and he swung his arm around thinking I would slide the same way. But this time I slid through his legs, and he was looking behind. The fans cheered. Ruth said,'If you do that to me again, I'll pick you up and use you as a bat, you runt."
But Ruth must not have held much of a grudge -- Zenimura had a large part in setting up his trip to Japan in 1934.