HomeJapanese AmericanExhibition on Japanese Am baseball opens at All-Star Week

Exhibition on Japanese Am baseball opens at All-Star Week

By Janelle Kono

Saturday marked the first day of the Major League Baseball All-Star festivities, which will include the annual All-Star game, Home Run Derby, and MLB Draft. Among the many activities for baseball fans descending from across the country is an exhibit celebrating the history and contributions of Japanese baseball players, and Nikkei players, or players with Japanese ancestry.

This is the first year that a display celebrating the contribution of AAPI baseball players has been invited to participate in the All-Star festivities by Major League Baseball. It joins what Kerry Yo Nakagawa, founder of the Nissei Baseball Research Project, refers to as the “Major League History Bus” with traveling displays about the All-American Girls, Latinos in Baseball, and the Negro Leagues.

“Sometimes this world can seem upside down, but truly we believe that through the healing agent of good baseball and sports, it doesn’t matter how tall you are, what faith you belong to, what color your skin is, you know, we truly are connected by humanity. We’re very hopeful that people realize that this bridge across the pacific, this humanity that exited pre-war still exists today”

Kerry Yo Nakagawa, Founder of Nisei Baseball Research Project

Baseball’s Bridge Across the Pacific is set up in four sections: Pre-war, World War II, Post-war and legacy, and the Bridge Across the Pacific. A full timeline of Japanese American Baseball history compiled by the Nissei Baseball Research Project and be seen here.

Photo: October 29, 1927, Four Japanese American all-stars from the Fresno Athletic Club join Lou Gehrig’s Larrupin’ Lou’s to defeat Babe Ruth’s Bustin’ Babes, 13-3, at Fireman's Park in Fresno, CA. Left to right: Johnny Nakagawa, Lou Gehrig, Kenichi Zenimura, Babe Ruth, Fred Yoshikawa and Harvey Iwata. Photograph by Frank Kamiyana, courtesy of the Nisei Baseball Research Project, restored and colored by They Played in Color (TPIC Galleries). To learn more about TPIC Galleries, contact: tom@tpicgalleries.com). "
Photo: October 29, 1927, Four Japanese American all-stars from the Fresno Athletic Club join Lou Gehrig’s Larrupin’ Lou’s to defeat Babe Ruth’s Bustin’ Babes, 13-3, at Fireman’s Park in Fresno, CA. Left to right: Johnny Nakagawa, Lou Gehrig, Kenichi Zenimura, Babe Ruth, Fred Yoshikawa and Harvey Iwata. Photograph by Frank Kamiyana, courtesy of the Nisei Baseball Research Project, restored and colored by They Played in Color (TPIC Galleries). To learn more about TPIC Galleries, contact: [email protected]). ”

Bill Staples Jr, a board member with the National Baseball Research Project and President of the Japanese American Citizen League in Arizona, told AsAmNews he hopes that this display will gain traction and lead to further exposure.

“Our goal is to get recognition and respect by, I guess, by the baseball powers that be. One is MLB which we have accomplished today.”

Nakagawa added that he hopes this display will be included in future All-Star games to come as well. The eventual goal of the National Baseball Research Project is to have a permanent display featured in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Nakagawa also noted his desire for today’s Japanese and Japanese American players would learn about the Japanese players that paved the way for them.

“We hope that Ichiro and Ohtani-san would feel that [they, their Japanese ball player predecessors, are] their ancestral godfathers cause I know from their standpoint the godfathers would be very proud at seeing these generations of Japanese and Japanese Americans elevate the game so high,” he said to AsAmNews.

Staples and Nakagawa wanted to voice their thanks to the Major League Baseball representatives that helped get their exhibit to this year’s Play Ball Park, such as Misha Hurd and Billy Bean from Major League Baseball’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Program.

This exhibit is at the Play Ball Park in Lumen Field and tickets can be purchased through Tuesday.

AsAmNews is published by the non-profit, Asian American Media Inc. Follow us on FacebookX, InstagramTikTok and YouTube. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to support our efforts to produce diverse content about the AAPI communities. We are supported in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library in partnership with the California Department of Social Services and the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs as part of the Stop the Hate program. To report a hate incident or hate crime and get support, go to CA vs Hate.

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