Baseball legend shares struggles, decision to overcome atrocities
May 18, 2012
Freedom is cherished by many Americans and envied by foreigners. But what happens when an individual who is born on American soil has their rights taken away and shipped to a war relocation camp at the expense of their nationality?
Satoshi "Fibber" Hirayama (Poston 227-2-A) is a victim of such an atrocity, and lives to tell about it to those who will listen. Hirayama agreed to tell part of his story to Greg Stobbe's junior English class, May 16, after most competed their projects on Japanese internment in World War II.
At the age of twelve, Hirayama was relocated to a war relocation camp during World War II because of his family's Japanese decent. His family was forced to leave their home town in Exeter, California, and move to an internment camp No 2 in Poston, Arizona. In fact The Hirayama family had lived with Caucasian families for a generation in Exeter.
"I had never seen so many Japanese kids in one place before the camp in Arizona," Hirayama said. "My family was the only Japanese family in Exeter."
While in the camp his family struggled to cope with the harsh living conditions in the dessert.
"The food was horrible, but for some reason my father liked the authentic Japanese food," Hirayama exclaimed, "but I hated Japanese food because I loved my mom's American cooking."
The Hirayama family endured additional hardship, when Fibber lost his mother to breast cancer a year before Executive Order 9066. After three years, the Hirayama family, along with other families, were free to leave after the war ended.
After WWII ended and he was released, the Hirayama family returned to the Central Valley. Fibber then finished his last two years of high school and then attended Fresno State College (California State University, Fresno), where he played football and baseball. After graduation, he moved to Hiroshima, Japan, where he played professional baseball, winning two World Series rings. Many view Fibber as a world-class baseball ambassador.
"He really inspired me to not only strive for a higher career in baseball, " said John-Paul Caprilglio, "but to learn how to cherish life and not take it for granted. But the biggest life lesson I learned was to keep moving forward no matter the obstacle."
Throughout the entire class period, Hirayama could not emphasize enough how important it is for young people today to have a great attitude towards life and let nothing bring you down.
Another student affected by Hirayama's story was Kristen Rosenthal.
"Having met an individual who endured so much and had his life stripped away made me cry," Rosenthal said. "But he pressed onward, giving me hope and made me realize how thankful I should be for my freedom."
In the early 2012 school year, Stobbe's English class studied and read the novel Farewell To Manzanar by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston. Hirayama's class discussion gave the students a real life perspective on how to cope with being exploited, harassed and abused.
Click here to view Satoshi Fibber Hirayama's Interview