The Sino Japanese War was recreated on the baseball field in Oakland, California by two promoters looking for any angle to draw in new fans.
WBUR reports the game between the Pacific Coast League’s Sacramento Senators and the Oakland Oaks pitted 5′ 2″ 100 pound [Kenso] Nushida against 6′ 2″ pitcher Lee Gum Hong who played under the name of Al Bowen.
It was 1932 in the middle of the Great Depression. The Senators were having a horrible season and fans were staying away. The Senators plucked Nushida from the Northern California Nisei League as a way to attract Japanese American fans to the ballpark.
That moved may have inspired the Oaks to tap into Oakland’s Chinese American population. The team decided not only to bring in Hong, but it specifically urged him to say things that would incite fans for both teams.
He began boasting in the paper that he represented China and whipped up a big Sino-Japanese frenzy.
The ballpark was packed with both Chinese and Japanese American fans when Nushida and Hong faced each other.
You can find out what happened in the game and to both men on WBUR and on the audio clip below.