As Sotaro Suzuki slept, Jimmy Horio steamed toward Japan, hoping to become the first Asian in the Major Leagues.
In 1890 his father, Shimataro Horio, and his family joined the tens of thousands who fled Hiroshima for Hawaii as an economic downturn hit the southern province especially hard. Food became scarce, forcing some unfortunates to subsist on bark and roots. Labor recruiters traversed the prefecture, explaining the need for workers on a tropical island paradise known as Hawaii. There an entire family could find work and save enough money to return to Japan in style or make a new comfortable home in the islands. With little economic future in Hiroshima, Shimataro signed a labor contract and with his wife, Shimo, and their two young daughters boarded a Hawaiianbound steamship.1
The passage was brutal. For three weeks the Horios would have been packed belowdecks with hundreds of other passengers. Families rigged up cloth screens for privacy, but they did not keep out the smell. Passengers relieved themselves in buckets that during rough seas would remain full for days in the enclosed space. Diseases spread quickly. This was just the first indication that the recruiters may have deceived them.
The family settled at Pa’ia Plantation on the island of Maui. The Horios were accustomed to hard work, but life on the plantation was harsh. Laborers worked from dawn to dusk with few breaks from the tropical heat. To protect themselves from the razor-sharp cane leaves, workers wore heavy clothing, which led to heat exhaustion. On the most brutal plantations, mounted overseers armed with whips rode behind the laborers to ensure that they kept pace. Despite