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Post: She went through a concentration camp and became a star in Japan. Forgotten baseball hero from Russia


As soon as the game was over, all his teammates rushed to their shooters. Baseball player Hiroshi Suda became the first player to achieve 300 wins in the Japanese league. The hero was given a commemorative award, and his friends waved him in their arms. The success of the shooter was expected because Hiroshi was one of the best players in the country and won many trophies. The most interesting thing is that the real name of the record holder is Viktor Starukhin. And he was born in Russia.

Victor was born in a wealthy family from Nizhny Tagil. The year 1916 was out. Rich people hastily left the city. The Starukhin family joined Kolchak’s retreating army and moved to China in search of a better life. The journey was the hardest test. Victor’s three younger brothers did not survive the journey, so he remained the only child in the family.

During the search, they had to travel in wagons full of people with typhus, hiding among the corpses. When Victor was three years old, the family reached the town of Harbin, where they settled. The Starukhins lived in China for 10 years, and then they decided to go to Japan.

It was there that a love of baseball was born, which became the pastime of only local schoolchildren. At the age of 13, Victor was noticeably distinguished by growth and strength. This allowed him to be an excellent shooter. At the time of graduation, Starukhin already had a height of over 190 centimeters and was a 100-kilogram muscle mountain.

After school, Victor was faced with a serious question. Going to college or starting out playing baseball professionally? Japanese law later did not allow to combine a sports career with studies. Therefore, the Russian had to refuse one of the options. He was not allowed to make his own choice. Fate has decided everything for him.

His father killed his mistress

When Victor was 18, his father went to jail. He secretly started an affair with a Russian immigrant from his wife. Do you think it ended in divorce? Everything is much worse. Starukhin Sr. He killed his mistress and went to jail.

The investigation believed that the man did this out of jealousy, so he was threatened with a great punishment. The killer insisted that the victim was a spy sending classified data to Russia.

Local media giant Seriki Matsurato came to the aid of the family. He was the owner of a baseball club and wanted to see a talented man from Russia on his team. Matsurato offered Victor two options for the development of the situation. The first involved the refusal of higher education and the signing of a contract with the club. Tycoon promised to help his father in return. Matsurato had strong connections in politics and local government, which could have reduced the suspect’s sentence.

Monument to Viktor Starukhin in Japan.  - DEA Novosti, 1920, 26/09/2022

The second option meant giving up a career and choosing a university. In this case, the Japanese would combine all the connections so that the Russian father spends the rest of his days in prison. The media mogul went for the usual blackmail. Starukhin, of course, agreed to the first option. The father was sentenced to only two years in prison for manslaughter.

Starukhin’s sports career began immediately. He became a real star in Japan and was twice recognized as the best player of the championship. Victor was nicknamed the “blue-eyed Japanese”. He started to achieve victories with his team.

He changed his name and entered a concentration camp

World War II was approaching. Japan was increasingly suspicious of foreigners. Victor could not even get rid of the position of everyone’s favorite. One day, a waiter in a cafe asked for a position, thinking that Starukhin was a spy.

It got to the point that in 1940 he changed his name to Victor and became Suda Hiroshi. But such a radical step had only a temporary effect. In 1944, the Japanese authorities began deporting all foreigners to concentration camps. Starukhin was suspended from playing at the club due to his nationality and subsequently exiled to the camp. He went there with his wife Lena and a child. The “blue-eyed Japanese” was a general outcast.

In the camp, he suffered from acute pleurisy, which affected his physical fitness in the future. There Starukhin befriended several Australians who helped him learn English. Victor was released only after the end of the war. But soon after that, a new grief fell upon him.

Baseball player Viktor Starukhin.  - DEA Novosti, 1920, 26/09/2022

His wife left Victor, leaving him a child, and fled to the United States with a newly chosen child. He did not expect the betrayal of his beloved woman, which greatly affected him. Starukhin became depressed and began to fill his grief with alcohol. The situation and the club’s unwillingness to see the Russians in the squad, refusing to return did not improve the situation. The baseball player had to work for a while as a translator in an American firm in Tokyo. It changed its name for the third time, but now in the American way. His passport was named Victor Starffin.

Soon Starukhin managed to find a baseball club. He got his 300th win with Takahashi Union and ended his career at the age of 38. In parallel, he managed to build a personal life. Victor married a Japanese woman named Kunie, who had two daughters to him. It seems that the terrible times are behind us. But things did not go so rosy.

Starukhin missed his first wife, but never managed to quit drinking. Despite the acquisition of a new family, the depression did not go away. In January 1957, the baseball player got very drunk, got into a car and drove towards the train tracks. A few hours later, the crushed remains of the car were found by the police. Victor died at the age of 41.

The inspectors did not reach a unanimous opinion. Was it coincidence or suicide? His blood alcohol level was many times higher than the legal limit for driving. The Japanese press even theorized that local intelligence agencies may have killed him.

In Russia, the name of Starukhin is not particularly known. Although he is still considered a sports legend in Japan. In the city of Asahikawa, where he spent most of his career, a 25,000-seat baseball stadium was opened in Starukhin’s honor. Inside the arena is a museum dedicated to his career.

Source: Ria

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