Seals 1949 trip to Japan
After the 1949 PCL season, the Seals embarked on a good will tour of Japan, playing 16 games in various places in Japan, including a game in Tokyo. Among the players on the trip were Lew Burdette (shown above at the left), Brooks Holder (shown above on the right), Con Dempsey, Jim Moran, Jim Westlake, and Dario Lodigiani.
The team was primarily made up of San Francisco Seals, but there were a few major leaguers. There were twenty players that made the trip. Even Lefty O' Doul played in a couple games. The Japanese loved O'Doul calling him "O'Doul-San." They also loved all the other players. Con Dempsey recalls "We went on tours and had taxis at our disposal with Seal signs all over them. The taxi drivers wanted to show off by going to their village with us in the back seat."
Jim Westlake recalls the warm reception the players got when they arrived in Tokyo. "We got off the plane about 4 o'clock in the afternoon and they put us in convertibles and they drove us from the airport into downtown Tokyo. I didn't think much of it there was just a few people standing along the road. However, by the time we got to down town Tokyo it was jammed. I could not believe the reception we got at all these cities. There were about half a million people greeting us as we came through."
General Douglas MacArthur who met the players felt O'Doul's tour was one of the most important pieces of diplomacy the US could do for Japan. Although he did feel strongly about the team doing well. Several players recall him asking the team to "please win every game!"
The Seals did indeed win every game on the tour, some games were routs, others were close fought contests, but probably the most important thing the Seals won on their tour was the love of the Japanese fans.