BRIDGE ACROSS THE PACIFIC

AUGUST 30, 1997

 

Nisei who were instrumental in show casing American baseball in Japan were honored in a special " Bridge Across the Pacific Tribute" on Saturday, August 30, 1997 at 3Com Park in San Francisco. The tribute was part of a pre-game ceremony at the annual Japanese American Day with the San Francisco Giants, preceding an interleague game with the Anaheim Angels.

Featured on the Angels is pitcher Shigetoshi Hasegawa, a former star in the Japanese Baseball League who became the first Japanese player in Major League Baseball's American League.

Several players and individuals )who helped bridge baseball across the Pacific were honored including:

 

AMBASSADORS OF SAN FRANCISCO TO

THE BRIDGE ACROSS THE PACIFIC

 

Cappy Harada-A legendary baseball executive, Harada served under General MacArthur during the postwar occupation of Japan, promoting goodwill through professional baseball tours by American players. Eventual Hall of Famers Lefty O'Doul and Joe DiMaggio came to Japan as Harada's guests. Harada became the general manager of the Lodi Crushers minor league team in 1966, and The Sporting News and the National Association of Professional Baseball named him"Executive of the Year" that year. Harada served a total of 23 years with the New York and San Francisco Giants organization as special assistant to Ho Ôrace Stoneham. Cappy was also responsibile in signing baseball's first professional Black umpire, Emitt Ashford. He was hired by Harada in 1953 when the Tokyo Giants played the San Francisco Giants in Santa Maria, Ca. Cappy also signed Matsunori Murakami, the first Japanese pitcher to play in America to the S.F. Giants in 1964.

Wally Yonamine- Yonamine also has the distinction of being the first Nisei to play in the National Football League, as a running back drafted straight out of Farrington High School to the San Francisco 49ers in 1947. He then signed with the San Francisco Seals in 1948. A Nisei pioneer as well as a Japanese baseball legend, Yonamine played with the San Francisco Seals in 1948-50 before signing with the Tokyo Giants in 1951. He played eleven years ending his playing career with a .311 batting ave. He then went on to coach and manage in the Japanese Baseball League for 26 years. He was voted to the Japan Baseball Hall of Fame in 1994 following an illustrious c ÷areer.

Fibber Hirayama-A Fresno Nisei and All-Conference star in Football and Baseball at Fresno State. Hirayama played professional baseball in Japan for the Hiroshima Carps from 1955 to 1964. He currently coaches in the Dominican Republic for the Hiroshima Carps Academy.

Kenso 'Howard' Zenimura-Another Nisei legend from Fresno, Zenimura was a player for the Hiroshima Carps in 1953 following an illustrious career with the Fresno Athletic Club. He is President of the Greater Fresno All-Star Baseball Club for 14 and 15 year olds. Annually they compete in goodwill tours with Japan, Korea, China, Mexico and Hawaii.

Kenshi "Harvey' Zenimura- Kenso's brother and fellow son of Issei baseball pioneer Kenichi Zenimura, Kenshi was a all-star player for the Hiroshima Carps from 1953 to 1956.

Ben Mitsuyoshi- Another Pacific bridge-building pioneer that was with the 12th Regt. "Griffins Baseball" team in Germany in 1952. They were the Yukon Cha Êmpions in Europe. Mitsuyoshi pitched for the Hiroshima Carps from 1953 to 1954.

Lefty O'Doul- A legend in Japan for his baseball and diplomatic skills that enriched both nations, will be recognized posthumously for helping showcase American baseball in Japan. O'Doul's family will be represented by Don Figoni.

Pat Morita- Television and Film star was emcee for the event. Originally a ballplayer from Suisun, CA. He was a Nisei ballplayer starting out as a youth player in the deserts of Tule Lake CA. and Gila River, Arizona internment camps in 1945.

Shigetoshi Hasegawa- Current Pitcher for the Anaheim, Angels. He spent six years with the Orix Blue Waves in Japan. He was the first Japanese Pitcher to play in the American League.

 

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