Transpacific Field of Dreams: How Baseball Linked the United States and Japan in Peace and War

By Sayuri Guthrie-Shimizu | Go to book overview

EPILOGUE

Japanese American baseball players’ field of new dreams after World War II proved as variegated as their wartime experiences, and only a few had a postwar transition as lucrative as Harada’s. The Department of the Army lifted its internment order in January 1945, and the War Relocation Authority (WRA) closed all of its camps by the year’s end. About 120,000 Japanese and Japanese Americans held in those facilities returned to their “normal” civilian life after almost three years of captivity at the hands of their own government. Ninety percent of those who had owned land and property before the war had lost everything and had to start from scratch. Upon their release, internees received three dollars in meal money and a ticket back to where they came from, if they chose to go back there; the WRA encouraged Japanese Americans to resettle in areas away from the Pacific Coast. Postwar America’s mainstream society, however, remained inhospitable to Japanese Americans. The California state legislature’s Joint Committee on Un-American Activities, chaired by Jack B. Tenney of Los Angeles, issued a report in 1945 entitled “Japanese Problems in California.”1 Not only officeholders but also some private citizens campaigned to prevent the Japanese internees’ return to the West Coast. In 1944 a small Washington State press circulated a pamphlet entitled The Japs Must Not Come Back! Its author expressed racialized and gendered fear of Japanese Americans. “Samurai-indoctrinated” Japanese American citizens “will have the right after the war to settle next door to us and consort with our daughters unless something is done to stop them.” The pamphlet thus proposed removing all Japanese Americans after the war to “Japanese Mandated Islands” in the Pacific, where they would be free to live under a democratic, American form of government but would be far away from white women; this “resettlement” would be necessary because “sexual contact between races ha[s] to be prohibited because the white race wants to survive.”2

Kenichi Zehimura chose to return to Fresno with his family. There, he carried on his lifelong dedication to the game he so loved, coaching Little League Baseball and playing semipro well into his fifties. His sons, Harvey and Howard, who had honed their baseball skills in the internment camp’s “minor league,” grew up to play for the Fresno State University baseball team. After graduation, the Zenimura brothers were recruited to play for

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Transpacific Field of Dreams: How Baseball Linked the United States and Japan in Peace and War
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Pacific Crossings 11
  • 2 - Colonial Baseball 40
  • 3 - Leagues of Their Own 75
  • 4 - The Business of Baseball 109
  • 5 - Empires of Fun and Games 140
  • 6 - Spartan Leagues 172
  • 7 - A Field of New Dreams 199
  • 8 - The Search for Postwar Order 225
  • Epilogue 242
  • Notes 246
  • Selected Bibliography 286
  • Index 306
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