Viktor Starukhin: how he became a baseball star because of the murder of Soviet spy

Biography 13/01/20 Viktor Starukhin: how he became a baseball star because of the murder of Soviet spy

Today, the name of Viktor Starukhin little known in Russia. The fact that he was a baseball star is not in their homeland and not even in the USA, and in Japan. However, the fate of the old woman could have been so different if not for the murder, may have committed his father.

Sports or academics?

Viktor Konstantinovich Starukhin was born in 1916 in Nizhny Tagil. However, as George writes Lavrov, in his book “Yokohama Gaijin: a memoir of a foreigner born in Japan” (George Lavrov “Yokohama Gaijin: Memoir of a Foreigner Born in Japan”), soon, when the Russian revolution broke out, the couple, the old woman with a young son decided to leave home. At first they moved to China, and from there on the Japanese island of Hokkaido, in the city of Asahikawa. There, Victor went to school and was fascinated by baseball. Starukhin has shown excellent results in this sport, including through a beautiful physique and high growth. Pretty soon Victor or, as it is called, “blue-eyed Japanese” became a local baseball star.

Despite the progress, Viktor Starukhin wanted to pursue higher education. His choice fell on one of the most prestigious universities in Japan – Waseda University. However, under Japanese law, Starukhin could either engage in professional sports, or to study at University. At first, Victor didn’t even hesitate: he was ready to give up baseball forever for Waseda. But disaster struck: as stated in the publication “Baseball History” (MecklerPub.,1987), in 1934, Victor’s father, Constantine Starukhin, had been arrested, as now considered, on false charges. Starukhin Sr. was accused of murder.

the Assistance of philanthropist

according to the publication “The National Pastime” (Society for American Baseball Research, 1990), at first Constantine, the old woman claimed Thursabout finished with his victim out of jealousy, but later began to adhere to the version according to which the dead woman was allegedly a Soviet spy. Starukhin was found guilty and sentenced to 8 years in prison. Was Constantine, the old woman really a murderer, and whether the woman is in fact a Soviet spy, now unknown. However, one thing for sure – this story was for family Starukhin a real tragedy. The more that Victor and his mother in this regard was threatened with expulsion from the country.

Suddenly, to help the old woman came Matsutaro Serik, the famous philanthropist who has invested a lot of effort and money in the development of baseball in Japan, and even organized a baseball team. If you believe the book of Joseph Reeves “introduction to the game: a history of baseball in Asia” (Joseph A. Reaves “Taking in a Game: A History of Baseballin Asia”), Serik advised Victor to reflect carefully on entering the University, because in sports it can reach much greater heights. If the “blue-eyed Japanese” will choose baseball, Matsutaro, they say, promises to help his parents. Victor agreed to the conditions of the patron. Starukhin Sr. reduced the term, and Victor with his mother stayed in Japan.


Viktor Starukhin quickly became a favorite of Japanese baseball fans. However, the Second World war, the popularity slightly diminished. According to Josh Chetwynd, in his book “Baseball in Europe: from country to country” (Josh Chetwynd “Baseball in Europe: A Country by Country History”), Starukhin constantly suspected of having links with Soviet intelligence. Giant baseball has become in the eyes of the Japanese the enemy. Despite the fact that the old woman changed his name to a more Japanese – Hiroshi Shido, he even had a chance to visit a concentration camp. Once in the land of the Rising Sun began to fill the Americans, Viktor Starukhin again got a new name. Now it has become Starffin. For a time he worked for the Americans as a translator from Russian and Japanese. However, later, when the game resumed, Viktor Starukhin returned to baseball.

unfortunately, the career of any athlete short. In the last years of his life Victor Starukhin was suffering from depression and is increasingly applied to the bottle. Starukhin when asked about how he feels after a brilliant career, he replied: “Sad and lonely”. Alcohol has destroyed family of the baseball player, and, perhaps, was the reason for his early departure from life. George Lavrov in the book “Yokohama Gaijin: a memoir of a foreigner born in Japan” says that Viktor Starukhin died in a car accident in Tokyo. Perhaps in that moment the 40-year old woman was indeed drunk.

Yulia Popova

© Russian Seven

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