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Nikkei Baseball

Japanese American Players from Immigration and Internment to the Major Leagues

Samuel O. Regalado

Publication Year: 2012

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_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_

Published by: University of Illinois Press


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pp. 1-3

Title Page

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p. 4-4


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pp. 5-7


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pp. 8-9

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pp. ix-xii

The roots of this book have their origins in my upbringing. Raised in the Los Angeles suburbs, I grew up in an ethnically mixed neighborhood. The Shundo family was among those on my block, and our families got to know each other . . .

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1. Baseball in Nikkei America

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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 . . .

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2. The New Bushido

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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 . . .

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3. Transplanted Cherries

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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 . . .

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4. Baseball Is It!

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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 . . .

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5. The Courier League

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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: . . .

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6. Barbed Wire Baseball

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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 . . .

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7. Catching Up

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pp. 115-143

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 called . . .


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pp. 145-168


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pp. 169-180


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pp. 181-187

E-ISBN-13: 9780252094538
Print-ISBN-13: 9780252037351

Page Count: 216
Publication Year: 2012