Lefty’s 16-mm Video of His Trip to Japan

Lefty: An American OdysseyIn 1934, Lefty Gomez, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and other American League and National League stars barnstormed in Japan. Gomez captured many images of the trip with his 16-mm camera. An excerpt from the forthcoming book Lefty: American Odyssey is featured in this week’s Sports Illustrated. Some of the intriguing video footage can be viewed, courtesy of Random House.

The video, described as “never-seen-before footage,” is compelling by itself. The included narrative successfully adds perspective to what would have been the perception of Babe Ruth travelling abroad to a country where he was revered. There is also the added perception of what the experience would have been like for the American baseball stars. This adds a great deal of depth and meaning to Lefty’s remarkable video.

The book can be previewed and purchased through Random House.


The real untold story of that trip to Japan was how catcher Morris “Moe” Berg also took along a 16mm camera and while the rest of the team was playing a game,he went to the roof of St Luke’s Hospital…one of the highest buildings in Tokyo…and slowly filmed the entire city and the major anchorages in Tokyo Bay…..these films would later wind up with “Wild Bill” Donovan’s OSS and proved instrumental in providing key landmarks and targets for the Doolittle Raiders when they flew from the deck of the USS Hornet to bomb Japan……a graduate of Columbia Univ Law School,Berg was once called “the brainiest guy in baseball”…for reasons which now are all too obvious

Absolutely right Robbins. Moe Berg is one of the great untold stories of baseball.

The LEFTY book goes into a little detail on this. Moe was Lefty’s catcher and Lefty attests to the fact that Moe was mysteriously out at night and often late to games and practices. What’s really interesting is that the Gomez Film Archive has extensive footage of Yokohama harbor and other military points of interest that Lefty Gomez captured during their trip. The book points out that Moe Berg asked Lefty to send his 16mm films to Washington DC prior to the war outbreak, which he did. They were returned to Lefty with a thank you note from the State Department many months later.

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I have come to Japan, incredible.
Lefty Gomez
Person of a legend

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