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Nikkei Baseball

Nikkei Baseball: Japanese American Players from Immigration and Internment to the Major Leagues

Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 216
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  • Book Info
    Nikkei Baseball
    Book Description:

    Nikkei Baseball examines baseball's evolving importance to the Japanese American community and the construction of Japanese American identity. Originally introduced in Japan in the late 1800s, baseball was played in the United States by Japanese immigrants first in Hawaii, then San Francisco and northern California, then in amateur leagues up and down the Pacific Coast. For Japanese American players, baseball was seen as a sport that encouraged healthy competition by imposing rules and standards of ethical behavior for both players and fans. The value of baseball as exercise and amusement quickly expanded into something even more important, a means for strengthening social ties within Japanese American communities and for linking their aspirations to America's pastimes and America's promise._x000B__x000B_With World War II came internment and baseball and softball played behind barbed wire. After their release from the camps, Japanese Americans found their reentry to American society beset by anti-Japanese laws, policies, and vigilante violence, but they rebuilt their leagues and played in schools and colleges. Drawing from archival research, prior scholarship, and personal interviews, Samuel O. Regalado explores key historical factors such as Meji-era modernization policies in Japan, American anti-Asian sentiments, internment during World War II, the postwar transition, economic and educational opportunities in the 1960s, the developing concept of a distinct "Asian American" identity, and Japanese Americans' rise to the major leagues with star players including Lenn Sakata and Kurt Suzuki and even managers such as the Seattle Mariners' Don Wakamatsu._x000B_

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09453-8
    Subjects: History, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. 1 Baseball in Nikkei America
    (pp. 1-8)

    One by one they filed into the outfield of San Francisco’s Candlestick Park. Some trotted, while others walked. Still others required assistance. And, apart from their friends and relatives in the seats, fans in attendance recognized none of the elderly men who were part of this pregame ceremony. Most had come to see Hideo Nomo, the then–Los Angeles Dodgers pitching sensation from Japan, who was scheduled to throw that day against the hometown Giants. But, the Nomo appearance notwithstanding, July 20, 1996, belonged to the men who stood in the center field grass wearing flannel pinstriped jerseys that bore...

  5. 2 The New Bushido
    (pp. 9-23)

    Baseball’s arrival in Japan was most timely. By the 1870s, Japanese boys held bats in their hands and tossed about baseballs. Less than a decade later, in some prefectures competitive games graced the environment. Yet, none of this could have occurred had there not been a dramatic change in their country only a few years earlier. With the fall of the Tokugawa Bakafu in 1867, in part as a result of the Western powers who had forced upon the Japanese the infamous “unequal treaties,” leaders in Japan recognized a watershed moment in their national history and many felt that to...

  6. 3 Transplanted Cherries
    (pp. 24-48)

    To be sure, the arrival of Issei travelers from Japan was a slow process. Moreover, contrary to the nativist “yellow peril” theory, the Japanese who came to the continental United States largely hoped to return to their homeland. Those who arrived with intentions to remain were, in fact, a minority among the migrants. By 1890, census agents for the United States counted 2,039 on the mainland, with the majority having settled on the West Coast.³ During the next twenty years, others trekked across the vast Pacific. Among these first-generation pioneers, forever known as Issei, came Chiura Obata, Frank Fukuda, and...

  7. 4 Baseball Is It!
    (pp. 49-69)

    Long before the 1930s, baseball’s foothold in California had been strong. In 1859, for instance, a group of San Franciscans, a number of whom had migrated from the New York area, formed the area’s first organized team, called the Eagles Base Ball Club.³ Shortly thereafter, others also appeared. The avalanche of clubs that came with baseball “mania” hit the Bay Area in the immediate post–Civil War years. Only a year later, Bay Area baseball aficionados, who had already formed some twenty-five clubs, organized the Pacific Base Ball Convention.⁴ As a means to advance the game’s popularity there, they sent...

  8. 5 The Courier League
    (pp. 70-90)

    In 1927 James Sakamoto, a boxer-turned-journalist, had just returned to his hometown of Seattle after having spent a few years in New York City. As he scanned his old neighborhood, he noticed a development in the old haunts: sport had taken hold of his community. Though his Japanese enclave in the city that on Puget Sound represented a tiny portion of the overall population, the residents there, nonetheless, were a very active minority. Neighborhood rivalries were common and, as Sakamoto discovered, residents often channeled their sentiments through their athletic clubs. As such, friction often arose among those who identified with...

  9. 6 Barbed Wire Baseball
    (pp. 91-114)

    In the days that followed December 7, 1941, many in Japanese American communities were somber and anticipated that evacuation orders might soon arrive. Since the attack on Pearl Harbor, rumors abounded about what might happen to them. Those who knew anything about the current military leadership in the West felt unease about those who sat at the top. John L. DeWitt, the unassuming lieutenant general and head of the Fourth Army, whose held a low level of respect among his peers, commanded the region from his post at the Presidio in San Francisco. Since the Pearl Harbor attack, DeWitt was...

  10. 7 Catching Up
    (pp. 115-144)

    Throughout much of 1945, residents from the ten concentration camps slowly packed their belongings in preparation to leave their imprisonment. Their release came as a result of the U.S. Supreme Court in the case calledEndo, Ex Parte. Though in previous cases, such asHirabayashi v. U.S.(1943)and Korematsu v. U.S.(1944), the plaintiffs, who had challenged the constitutionality of their curfew and incarceration, failed to win their freedom, Mitsuye Endo’s legal argument did the trick. A California state worker before the attack on Pearl Harbor, Endo in July 1942 filed a habeas corpus petition in federal district court...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 145-168)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 169-180)
  13. Index
    (pp. 181-188)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 189-195)