Regalado recently gave a fascinating interview about his book, Nikkei Baseball on WBUR which was posted on Giant Robot.
“They (Japanese American ballplayers) saw that as a possible bridge to better deals and to better learn about the mainstream society at that point, said Regalado. It was a means by which they could introduce themselves in their quest to live here permanents and eventually gain permanent citizenship.”
Baseball became a major form of entertainment and a real focus of the lives of many who lived in the incarceration camps during World War II. Coverage of the games in the camp newspaper dominated the pages throughout the baseball season.
Many of the players developed a kinship with Baseball Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson.
“Those players were the ones that were housed in the LA area. There was a Japanese American community near the Pasadena area, and that’s where Jackie Robinson was raised,” said Regalado. “You had ballplayers who growing up in the same neighborhood and played in sandlot games, high school games in which they were team mates of Jackie Robinson, some were closer than others. In many respects, they faced the same kind of discrimination that Robinson had experience, but in many respects it wasn’t anything like what Robinson felt in the Deep South. But nonetheless there was a relationship that was established between Robinson and many of the Nissei ballplayers during the period of the mid 1930’s.
Regalado also talks about the first Japanese American ballplayer ever to play in the major leagues. Ryan Kurosaki played for the St.Louis Cardinals in 1975.
You can listen to the entire fascinating interview and hear how Japanese American ballplayers were treated and perceived by other players on WBUR via Giant Robot.