Online Registry of Japanese American Baseball Players Launched
Initiative Aims to Document All Players of the Historic Nikkei Baseball Leagues
FRESNO, Calif. (February 14, 2012) – The Nisei Baseball Research Project (www.niseibaseball.com), a non-profit organization founded to preserve and celebrate the history of Japanese American baseball, today announced the launch of an online registry created to document all players of the important, yet often overlooked, Japanese American Baseball leagues of the past.
Family members, friends and baseball fans are encouraged to visit www.NiseiBaseball.com/Registry and share information about former ballplayers who played in the Japanese American leagues, pre- and post-war, and also inside internment camps during WWII. The intended outcome is for the Nisei Baseball Research Project to compile the information into a single resource and share it with the public in the near future.
For those unfamiliar with Japanese American baseball history, it is similar to Negro Leagues story, yet one that occurred primarily on the U.S. West Coast. Much like Jackie Robinson and his peers in the Negro Leagues, Japanese Americans were forced to play in their own leagues from the 1900s to the 1940s because of bigotry and discrimination in white America.
During this same period, Japanese American baseball teams also participated in goodwill tours toJapan and other parts of Asia where they helped export the American style of play while building cultural bridges between the U.S. and Japan. With each visit the Japanese American teams helped improve skill levels of their hosts which ultimately contributed to the development of Japanese professional baseball in 1936.
“Nikkei baseball is still one of the great untold stories of history,” says Bill Staples, Jr., board member of the Nisei Baseball Research Project. “Despite this lack of awareness, the impact of their leagues is quite visible in today’s game,” says Staples. “The presence of players like Ichiro Suzuki, Hideki Matsui, Daisuke Matsuzaka, and now Yu Darvish, clearly demonstrate that the national pastime has officially become The International Pastime. And the game wouldn’t be where it is today without the contributions of these great Japanese American baseball pioneers.”
Staples, who is also the author of Kenichi Zenimura, Japanese American Baseball Pioneer (McFarland, 2011) is scheduled for a book signing at the Japanese American National Museum on Saturday, March 24, 2012 in Los Angeles, CA. Also joining him will be NBRP founder Kerry Yo Nakagawa for a panel discussion and celebration of Japanese American baseball. Former Nikkei players, family, friends and baseball fans are encouraged to attend. To learn more, visit: http://www.janm.org/events/2012/03/#24.
To access the Japanese American Baseball Player Registry and share information about someone who participated in the historic Japanese American baseball leagues, visit www.NiseiBaseball.com/Registry.
About the NBRP
The Nisei Baseball Research Project (NBRP) is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization founded in 1996 to preserve the history of Japanese American Baseball. The NBRP is dedicated to sharing the Japanese American experience as seen through the prism of the American Pastime. To date, the NBRP has produced educational exhibits, curriculum, documentaries, books, a major motion picture, and delivered countless presentations across the U.S. and Japan in an effort to open the hearts and minds of future generations. Learn more at: www.niseibaseball.com.