Required reading…for John Sterling.
To welcome its first pro team, Hiroshima erected the stadium in the early 1950s. The mayor hoped baseball would “revitalize the spirit of Hiroshima,” and make the citizens forget what had happened on August 6, 1945. Yet he built the stadium 300 yards from the epicenter of the atomic explosion.
There was no evidence that the fans felt particularly uncomfortable in this setting. A majority of adults in this city were survivors of the bomb, or lost parents that day, or were related to hibakusha, yet thousands come to this spot where so many perished to drink beer and cheer. Among the players they applauded were hired mercenaries from the country that dropped the bomb on their relatives (or themselves).
Out of guilt or uneasiness, I found myself cheering loudly for the Carp, as if this could somehow compensate for the decision to drop the bomb. Still, this was once a killing field, and any fan raising his or her eyes could see that spot in the sky where the bomb went off.
For a baseball fan from New York, it was hard to enjoy the game. At Yankee Stadium you get a screeching subway; at the Mets’ home field, jumbo jets from LaGuardia. At Hiroshima Stadium, for decades, you got the A-bomb Dome over your shoulder. It is often said that the ghosts of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig haunt Yankee Stadium. One did not want to think too deeply, especially at a baseball game, about the apparition potential at Hiroshima Stadium.