CHAMPIONSHIP OF DESTINY: Lodi JACL Templars overcome uncertainty with victory

LODI, Calif. — It’s usually pretty hot during the summer in Lodi, but the temperature was nothing compared to the hot streak the Lodi JACL Templars went on during the 63rd annual California State AA Nisei Baseball tournament held in Lodi over Labor Day weekend. Four teams from Southern California — The Gardena Rebels, the […]

‘Mashi’ Murakami’s ‘meteoric rise’ in Japan and the U.S. in the mid-century

MASHI: The Unfulfilled Baseball Dreams of Masanori Murakami, the First Japanese Major Leaguer By Robert Fitts (Lincoln, Neb.: University of Nebraska Press, 2015, 256 pp., $28.95, hardcover) The San Francisco Giants’ Japanese Heritage Night at AT&T Park in late May of this year honored Norichika Aoki and Travis Ishikawa, two Japanese and Japanese American baseball […]

New book on ‘Mashi’ Murakami, 1st Japanese major leaguer

NEW YORK — Nobody expected much from Masanori Murakami when the Nankai Hawks sent him and two other young pitchers to America to train with San Francisco Giants minor leaguers in the spring of 1964. But after five impressive months with single-A Fresno, the 20-year-old lefty got his chance in the majors as a September […]

Giants honor Japanese heritage as postseason hero Ishikawa in limbo

On May 19, hundreds of baseball fans arrived early to the San Francisco Giants game to enjoy Japanese Heritage Night at AT&T Park. The annual event was hosted by the Giants organization in partnership with the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California, Japanese American Citizens League, Nakayoshi Young Professionals and San Jose Japantown. […]

Community welcomes Nikkei Giants at S.F. Japantown reception

Two San Francisco Giants of Japanese descent, whose onfield heroics have energized the fan base to varied levels of frenzy, were welcomed to San Francisco’s Japantown May 7 in an invite-only reception of about 250 guests at the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California. Flanked by Giants owners Larry Baer and Duane Kurisu […]

Newcomer ‘Nori’ Aoki sparks atop Giants lineup

There’s a new spark atop the San Francisco Giants lineup. Through the Giants’ first nine games, Norichika “Nori” Aoki, the team’s newly-acquired outfielder, is leading the squad with a .405 batting average while starting every game as the team’s leadoff hitter. In the Giants home opener on April 13 at AT&T Park, the 33-year-old veteran […]

Aoki inks 1-year, $4.7 million deal with Giants

LOS ANGELES (Kyodo) — The San Francisco Giants said Jan. 19 they have signed outfielder Norichika Aoki to a one-year contract in which he will be guaranteed $4.7 million. The 33-year-old Aoki played last season with Kansas City, which lost the World Series to the Giants in seven games. San Francisco has won world championships […]

Baseball as a symbol of hope

BARBED WIRE BASEBALL By Marissa Moss, illustrated by Yuko Shimizu (New York: Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2013, 48 pp., $18.95, hardcover) What made baseball so compelling for Japanese American World War II inmates? “Barbed Wire Baseball” gives us a glimpse of one man’s yearning for the sport from Gila River, Ariz.’s desert concentration camp. […]

WWII Japanese American inmates recall baseball as symbol of freedom

LOS ANGELES — A group of elderly Japanese Americans will always remember a baseball series they played 70 years ago because it was their symbol of freedom. The octogenarians are among more than 120,000 Japanese nationals and Japanese Americans who were forcibly relocated to 10 concentration camps by the U.S. government following Japan’s bombing of […]

Recovering a community’s rich history and identity

Japanese American Baseball in California : A History  By Kerry Yo Nakagawa (Charleston, S.C.: The History Press, 2014, 224 pp., $21.99, paperback)  One of the real pleasures of studying Japanese American history is a capacity for being endlessly surprised by the richness of the subject — I love discovering the unexpected paths that Nikkei communities and […]

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