A sport transplanted to Japan in 1873, baseboru has become such a big hitto over there that it's now their most popular spectator sport. Obojski (Bush League: The History of Minor League Baseball, p. 59) traces the evolution of the game from its inception in the college ranks. . . through exhibition contests with visiting American squads. . . and up to the current twelve-team, two-league professional circuit. The impact of the touring U.S. teams cannot be overlooked--Japan's first professional league came into being shortly after the frenzied reception given to a delegation of American stars that included Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Moe Berg. Major differences with our version include corporate ownership of teams; a 130-game season; the presence of six umpires; a less developed minor league system; and greater job security (i.e., fewer trades) for their players. Although the Nipponese are now felt to be narrowing the gap that still exists between them and our superior made-in-U.S.A, product, it's unlikely that there'll be an International World Series for at least another decade, if then. Followers of Japan's Mel Ott-like slugger Sadaharu Oh and 400-game winner Masaichi ""Shoichi"" Kaneda will have a head start here. Others may require slippery elm to sumo-wrestle with this sort of curiosity.