Baseball in Arizona

Poston III Baseball at Gila River camps

   The Poston camp III Yankees baseball team led by manager Jimmy Shigemi Fujita (308-5-C) , played seven games against Gila River at the Butte and Canal camps. Among those from Poston who made the 211 mile trek through the hot Arizona southeast for the game on July 4, 1944 were Poston III administrator, Gerald Shigeru Wumino (305-5-D); Kay Kazumi Hanada (326-4-A); Jay Jitsuo Nishida (308-3-CD);  brothers Maya Miyamoto (308-13-C) and Chokichi Roy Miyamoto (309-6-C); Harry Hisatoshi Sakamoto (328-11-C);  and Frank Goro Tanaka (307-2-A).  
     Frank Tanaka hit an impressive .371 in 10 games while playing in the Poston “A” League, while Maya Miyamoto hit .333, and Chokichi Miyamoto hit .313 in nine games.
      Of their seven games played at Gila River, the Yankees suffered one loss was with the Canal All-Stars and twice to the Zeni’s Block 28 team (named for Kenichi Zenimura). The Yankees won 3 and lost 4 during their stay at the Gila River camps.

      At the end of the visit to Gila River, the Poston III Yankees’ coach Fujita praised the sportsmanship of the team and fans at Gila. On behalf of the entire Poston team, he also extended his sincere gratitude to Block 28 and especially to Kenichi Zenimura.

     In 2005,  the City of Chandler, Arizona selected the name "Nozomi Park" for a new park site to honor all Japanese Americans who were interned in Arizona during WWII. Nozomi is the Japanese word for "hope" and was inspired by the game of baseball that was played behind barbed wire in the camps. Ultimately the game gave an entire community a sense of hope and normalcy, making life bearable while being unjustly incarcerated by their own country.

    Unfortunately the City of Chandler has stopped discussion on the plans for Nozomi Park due to budget problems.  Instead of allowing this idea to "die, " the Arizona Baseball Community -- the official adopt-a-park sponsors of West Chandler Park -- is asking for your support to rename West Chandler Park to Nozomi Park
     The goal is have the name change completed in time to re-dedicate the park in February 2012, the 70th Anniversary of President F.D. Roosevelt's signing of Executive Order 9066,  and during the month of the Day of Remembrance.  E.O 9066 gave the War Department authority to create military exclusion areas during wartime.  This set in motion the beginning of the evacuation of people of Japanese ancestry from the Western states.

      Bill Staples, baseball historian and author, is asking for your support in signing a petition that calls for honoring all those incarcerated in Japanese American Internment camps in Arizona during WWII with the renaming of a park in Chandler, Arizona.

      Please sign the petition, and spread the word. A MONETARY DONATION IS NOT REQUIRED TO SIGN THE PETITION.  Below is a link to the petition and a background summary on the story: 

Kenichi Zenimura, Japanese American Baseball Pioneer by Bill Staples, Jr. McFarland (July 1, 2011)  ISBN-10: 0786461349 ISBN-13: 978-0786461349. See Chapter 6: A Taste of Freedom (1944) p. 148-149.

 “Ball Team Visits Gila,” Poston Chronicle, July 4, 1944.
 “Himaka Wins Batting Title,” Poston Chronicle, July 6, 1944.
 “Dust and Desert,” Poston Chronicle, July 15, 1944

1 comment:

Dianne said...

Good news ... During the Thursday, December 15, 2011 meeting, the City Council of the City of Chandler approved agenda item #19: "Authorize the name Nozomi Park be transferred to the park currently known as West Chandler Park." It was approved by a vote of 6-1.

Thanks to everyone for your support of the Nozomi Park petition.

Stay tuned for more information on Nozomi Park in the new year.

Happy Holidays!

Bill Staples, Jr.
Arizona Baseball Community