Hiraoka Hiroshi is the father of Japanese baseball. Hiroshi traveled to the United States in 1871 to study railway technology. When he returned in 1877, the railway engineer brought back baseball equipment and guidebooks along with his railroad knowledge. He soon formed the Shimbashi Athletic Club, the first organized baseball team in Japan. Hiroshi himself was a pitcher. His curveballs were called Makyu (Magic Balls) by amazed early Japanese players. One of Hiroshi's young baseball students was Masaoka Shiki who would later be instrumental in popularizing baseball through his poetry.
Hiroshi had wide ranging interests. Besides railway technology and baseball, Hiroshi was also a skilled painter and became an expert in Edo era artworks. He also founded the Tomei School of Samisen Music.
Hiroshi was inducted into the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame in 1959.