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Diamond Diplomacy reveals often-controversial pivotal moments, as baseball has been tossed between the U.S. and Japan since 1872.
Diamond Diplomacy reveals often-controversial pivotal moments, as baseball has been tossed between the U.S. and Japan since 1872.
Diamond Diplomacy reveals often-controversial pivotal moments, as baseball has been tossed between the U.S. and Japan since 1872.
253 backers pledged $40,777 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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$40,777

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We did it! Goal met! Now we get to take the funds and move forth with production. 

But we still need your help to make this documentary. Please consider making a pledge toward our stretch goal. And, there are still many exciting reward gifts available! 

It's been a very exciting week for baseball! The end of an era, the end of a curse, and we got to see two teams work very hard and entertain us! I felt it was a welcome distraction.

There is something very special about baseball. I believe that there are moments like these when even those who are not usually fans, see the magic and the possibilities. I've had the privilege of researching and seeing baseball delight, awaken, and bridge chasms of culture. Thank you for helping us to make this film!

We believe in Diamond Diplomacy!

We are a team of experienced documentary filmmakers who believe in Diamond Diplomacy, the hidden gem in baseball history that brings together the United States and Japan. In the wake of the 2016 Olympics and in this time of global uncertainty, we seek ways to reach across barriers to foster international friendships.

All donations will be tax deductible.*

The Story 

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. This never-before-told 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.

Babe Ruth, 1934 All-Star Tour to Japan. Courtesy of the National Baseball Hall of Fame
Babe Ruth, 1934 All-Star Tour to Japan. Courtesy of the National Baseball Hall of Fame

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. 

Lefty O'Doul greeting the Crown Prince Akihito (current Emperor of Japan). Courtesy of Dempsey family.
Lefty O'Doul greeting the Crown Prince Akihito (current Emperor of Japan). Courtesy of Dempsey family.

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.

Mashi being honored by the SF Giants for the 50th Anniversary of his debut as first Japanese Major Leaguer. ©2016, Monica Lee Photography.
Mashi being honored by the SF Giants for the 50th Anniversary of his debut as first Japanese Major Leaguer. ©2016, Monica Lee Photography.

Where We Are Now

Diamond Diplomacy is currently in production and development. We have filmed several events and opportunities needing to be captured in a timely fashion. We hope to roll out with the rest of production as soon as possible with your help. 


We are fortunate to have the support of the partners and funders below:

 

How We Will Use The Funds

Up until now, we have only filmed to capture special related events and preliminary interviews. We now plan to film interviews with several of our characters and coordinate an intensive production trip to Japan. The $40,000 will cover the staff, crew, equipment and travel expenses for the next round of filming, including the trip to Japan. It will also help cover the initial licensing costs to acquire archival materials from historical sources, family estate archives, and Major League Baseball.

Our Post-Season Stretch Goal

From $40,001-$60,000 will cover initial story editing to help move us toward a rough cut.

Our World Series Stretch Goal

From $60,001-80,000 will cover initial work with an animator to create Horace Wilson (our 1872 hero who took baseball to Japan from the U.S.) and initial consultation with a composer.

Director Yuriko Romer with Felipe Alou ©2016, Flying Carp Productions
Director Yuriko Romer with Felipe Alou ©2016, Flying Carp Productions

Director's Statement

I often get asked, “How do you find your ideas?” Well, I think they find me. In the midst of finishing Mrs. Judo, my friend Dave invited me to a museum exhibit about the 1949 San Francisco Seal’s Goodwill Baseball Tour to Japan. That was the beginning of Diamond Diplomacy. Dave’s father, Con Dempsey, had captured delightful home movies of the baseball tour during the post-WWII occupation. Because I straddle both cultures, this was enough to pique my interest.

I began researching and quickly learned that baseball had been introduced to Japan in 1872! And of course this relationship is now going strong with players going back and forth from the U.S. and Japan. I also learned about some of the rougher baseball moments in the history. And as much as baseball gets into the movies, this story has never really been told. 

From Mashi, I learned how cross-cultural understanding can be hit or miss, yet baseball can bring us together on the same playing field. There are some big names involved in this story too -- Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Lefty O’Doul and more. It has been quite the journey, producing Diamond Diplomacy. Please join in the fun and help us to finish the film!

Our Starting Line-Up

  

   

   

 

 

 

 

Our Coaches & Trainers

Author and baseball historian, Rob Fitts; Author and baseball historian, Robert Whiting; Author, baseball historian and history professor Rice University, Sayuri Guthrie Shimizu; Author and baseball historian, John Thorn; Author and Major League Baseball historian, Kerry Yo Nakagawa; Baseball historian, Tom Schieber; Stanford University Political Science Professor Emeritus, Daniel Okimoto: Bucknell University Asian Studies Dept. Chair, James Orr

How You Can Help

1) BACK THE PROJECT at whatever level you can. Every contribution -small and large - counts! Take a peek at some of the fun featured rewards collected and curated by our team along the baseball journey.

2) SPREAD THE WORD! It takes tremendous community support to fund a Kickstarter! Crowdfunding is about lots of people getting together to donate modest amounts of money. So, please, share our page on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Use our preset social media posts and pix xyz.com.

3) FOLLOW US on Instagram and Twitter. LIKE US on Facebook.

All donations (beyond the value of any reward received) are tax deductible through our fiscal sponsor, The Center for Independent Documentary. If you'd like to invest more deeply in the project, please get in touch!

New reward gifts added:

New Rewards! Baseball books!
New Rewards! Baseball books!
 
Mashi with Mays, Mashi on the Mound, Mashi at Wrigley Field
Mashi with Mays, Mashi on the Mound, Mashi at Wrigley Field
 
"The Babe in the Negro Leagues" by Mark Ulriksen. Exclusive offering!
"The Babe in the Negro Leagues" by Mark Ulriksen. Exclusive offering!
 
New! Topps "East meets West" baseball card, (signed by Mashi)
New! Topps "East meets West" baseball card, (signed by Mashi)

 

New reward gifts - children's books
New reward gifts - children's books
 
 
 
Babe Ruth books, by Julia Ruth Stevens
Babe Ruth books, by Julia Ruth Stevens

 

 
Ball signed by Kenta Maeda, LA Dodgers pitcher
Ball signed by Kenta Maeda, LA Dodgers pitcher

 

 

Sayonara Slam, mystery novel by Naomi Hirahara
Sayonara Slam, mystery novel by Naomi Hirahara
 
 
Take a peek at some of our fun reward gifts.
Take a peek at some of our fun reward gifts.

 

Balls, balls and more balls! (Signed!)
Balls, balls and more balls! (Signed!)

 

Some of our new gifts, books galore
Some of our new gifts, books galore

 

Gifts for Mrs. Judo fans too!
Gifts for Mrs. Judo fans too!

Thank you to all who came out to Lefty O'Doul's in San Francisco!

A wonderful night at Lefty's for the Diamond Diplomacy party! Thank you all for coming out!
A wonderful night at Lefty's for the Diamond Diplomacy party! Thank you all for coming out!

We had a great turnout and a fun party on October 17th! Thank you to all the generous donors who helped boost our Kickstarter by almost $4,000! And a big shoutout and thanks to Nick Bovis for hosting us at his baseball history museum, Lefty O'Doul's Restaurant and Bar - 333 Geary Street, just off Union Square in San Francisco. If you'd like to peek into our party, here is the Kickstarter Live Stream link: https://live.kickstarter.com/flying-carp-productions/live-stream/diamond-diplomacy-at-lefty-odouls

And special thanks for help and donations of gifts:

MLB, the San Francisco Giants, Mashi Murakami, Kenta Maeda, Nori Aoki, Kensuke Tanaka, Rob Fitts, Kerry Yo Nakagawa, Naomi Hirahara, Mark Ulriksen, Leslie Flores, among others.

*All donations are tax deductible through Center for Independent Documentary (501c3), less the cost of reward gifts offered.

Risks and challenges

With the excitement of documentary filmmaking come the challenges. Things are constantly shifting and we as filmmakers need to be able to swing with the shifts. We are inherently flexible, frugal and excited by the opportunities that come when we are up at bat. One of the biggest challenges is to reach toward the goal to make the film. We all know that moment when we're nearing the finish. There are so many people involved and we will see this through. It is a gift to be able to do this. Thank you for believing in Diamond Diplomacy.

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    Pledge $3 or more About $3

    Everyone loves #3 Babe Ruth

    A social media shoutout for being a supporter of Diamond Diplomacy. (Please let us know if you prefer to remain anonymous.)

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    Diamond Diplomacy Fan

    Mashi Postcard + Diamond Diplomacy postcard + Social media shoutout and thanks

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    Diamond Diplomacy Button

    Exclusive button of the Diamond Diplomacy baseball logo.

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    Mrs. Judo DVD

    "Mrs. Judo" DVD because you believe in Romer's documentaries but prefer judo to baseball.

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    Mashi Miscellaneous

    Unframed, unsigned BUT charming 8x10 photos of Mashi as a very young, first ever Japanese Major Leaguer. We'll pick a photo for you

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    Pair of B/W Keiko Fukuda magnets + DVD

    A pair of magnets of the beautiful B/W kata photo of Fukuda Sensei. (Photos by Cathy Cade) Mrs, Judo DVD and of course our heartfelt thanks!

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    East Meets West baseball card

    Topps East meets West baseball card signed by Mashi + Diamond Diplomacy button

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    "Baseball Saved Us"

    "Baseball Saved Us" children's book about baseball in the internment camps, by Ken Mochizuki and illustrated by Dom Lee + Diamond Diplomacy button

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    Key ring & button, honor Mashi #37

    Mashi was the first Japanese Major Leaguer, #37 for the Giants. Package includes specially created for this campaign, a Diamond Diplomacy bat key ring, a custom designed button and social media shoutout

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    "Take me out to the Yakyu"

    "Take me out to the Yakyu" children's book comparing American baseball and Japanese baseball + Diamond Diplomacy button

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    Remembering Japanese Baseball

    "Remembering Japanese Baseball: An Oral History of the Game" signed by author Robert Fitts.

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    Sayonara Slam!

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    "The Meaning of Ichiro" by R. Whiting

    "The Meaning of Ichiro: The New Wave from Japan and the Transformation of Our National Pastime" by Robert Whiting, of the bestseller "You Gotta Have Wa"

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    Mrs Judo DVD + tee shirt

    Mrs. Judo DVD Gift Pack, Mrs. Judo DVD and tee shirt.

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    Mashi on the Mound

    Framed B/W photo of Mashi, signed by Mashi

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    "Sayonara Home Run!"

    "Sayonara Home Run!: The Art of the Japanese Baseball Card" by John Gall and Gary Engel is a beautiful book filled with the colorful Japanese baseball cards through this long history of the Japanese obsession with baseball.

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    Digital preview of Diamond Diplomacy

    Sneak preview the film, when ready, but before it's out! (stream digitally) *54 is the number of Japanese players who have played Major League Baseball.

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    Mashi at Wrigley Field

    Framed color 8x10 photo of Mashi at Wrigley Field, signed by Mashi

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    Mashi biography

    Mashi biography signed by Mashi and author Rob Fitts

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    Sports Movie Fan

    A and a digitally streamed sneak preview of Diamond Diplomacy (as soon as it's available) and the Mrs. Judo DVD

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    Who is Dolph Camilli?

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    "You Gotta Have Wa!"

    "Your Gotta Have Wa" signed by the author Robert Whiting (The definitive book on Japanese baseball... -San Francisco Chronicle)

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    Diamond Diplomacy, the DVD

    New reward! At this level you'll get a DVD of DIAMOND DIPLOMACY (when available), with extras, signed by the filmmaker + digital sneak preview + you'll get your name in the credits, receive and a shout-out on social media.

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    Major League Dad, Babe Ruth

    "Major League Dad: A Daughter's Cherished Memories" a glimpse into the Babe's family life, signed by the author 100 year-old Julia Ruth Stevens + digital sneak preview

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    Baseball behind barbed wire

    "American Pastime" Warner Bros. poignant story of how baseball lived inside the internment camps of WWII + "Barbed Wire Baseball" children's book by Marissa Moss and illustrated by Yuko Shimizu + digital sneak preview

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    No-hitter Knight signed ball

    On August 1, 2004, fans at Knights Stadium witnessed history as Knights pitcher Tetsu Yofu tossed a nine-inning no-hitter in a 5-0 win over the Durham Bulls.  (He never played NPB, did play in China for the “Brother Elephants” of Taiwan) + digital preview of Diamond Diplomacy

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    Diamond Diplomacy baseball cap

    Beautiful embroidered Diamond Diplomacy baseball cap, digital download sneak preview, social media shoutout

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    Mashi with Mays

    Framed B/W photo of Mashi with Willie Mays, signed by Mashi + digital sneak preview of Diamond Diplomacy

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    Judo meets Baseball

    MRS. JUDO DVD, Diamond Diplomacy baseball cap & streamed digital sneak preview and Kodokan teacup.

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    Yomiuri Giant Poreda

    Ball signed by Aaron Pored, pitcher for the Tokyo Yomiuri Giants. (Formerly Chicago White Sox, San Diego Padres, Texas Rangers) + official Yomiuri Giants rally towel + digital sneak preview + Japan Pro Baseball Fan hanbook

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    • Ball signed by Aaron Poreda, pitcher Tokyo Yomiuri Giants
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    Babe Ruth: A Daughter's Portrait

    "Babe Ruth: A Daughter's Portrait" 177 pages of private and rarely published photos, memories and reflections - signed by the author, 100 year-old Julia Ruth Stevens + Digital Sneak Preview

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    • "Babe Ruth: A Daughter's Portrait" signed by Julia Ruth Stevens
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    Yomiuri Giant Garret Jones

    Signed ball from Tokyo Yomiuri Giant Garrett Jones, formerly of the Minnesota Twins, Pittsburg Pirates, Miami Marlins, and New York Yankees + Yomiuri Giants hat + digital sneak preview

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    • Ball signed by Garrett Jones, Tokyo Yomiuri Giants
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    • Digitally streamed sneak preview of Diamond Diplomacy
    • Social media thanks and shoutout
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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Diamond Diplomacy Package

    Includes:
    • DIAMOND DIPLOMACY, DVD with extras and signed by the filmmaker
    • Exclusive embroidered Diamond Diplomacy baseball cap
    • Digitally streamed sneak preview of Diamond Diplomacy
    • Social media thanks and shoutout
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    Pledge $110 or more About $110

    Mashi, Mashi

    Signed framed photo of Mashi, SF Giants pitcher + Mashi, the biography signed by Mashi and author Rob Fitts.

    Includes:
    • Signed, framed photograph of Mashi as SF Giants pitcher
    • Mashi, the biography signed by Mashi and the author Rob Fitts
    • Social media thanks and shoutout
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    Pledge $125 or more About $125

    Diamond Diplomacy with a touch of judo

    Digitally streamed sneak preview of Diamond Diplomacy, exclusive embroidered Diamond Diplomacy baseball cap, and Mrs. Judo DVD

    Includes:
    • Digitally streamed sneak preview of Diamond Diplomacy
    • Exclusive embroidered Diamond Diplomacy baseball cap
    • Mrs Judo DVD
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