TO HONOR LEGENDARY TUCSON HIGH AND JAPANESE INTERNMENT BASEBALL
WWII-era baseball game celebrated as a model of American
CA. - (May 2, 2006) The Nisei Baseball Research Project
(NBRP) is proud to announce that the legendary Gila River
Butte High Eagles and state-champion Tucson High Badgers
baseball teams will reunite 61 years after their historic
meeting in Rivers, Arizona – the Japanese-American
internment camp on the Gila River Indian Community.
Both teams are scheduled to receive special recognition
through events sponsored by the NBRP, Tucson High alumni
organizations and the Pima County Sports Hall of Fame (PCSHF).
Preliminary activities include recognition of both teams
on August 13 during "Hall of Fame Night” at Tucson
Electric Park, home of the Tucson Sidewinders, Triple-A
affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks, and a special award
presentation during the PCSHF Annual Banquet on October
The ceremonial first pitch for the “Hall
of Fame Night” game will be thrown by the starting
pitchers for both 1945 squads, the Eagles’ Tets Furakawa,
78, of Fresno, CA, and the Badgers’ Lowell Bailey,
78, of Phoenix.
The legendary Eagles vs. Badgers game occurred on April
18, 1945, and was later described by head coach Kenichi
Zenimura as “one of the most thrilling chapters in
the history of Butte (Gila River) baseball.”
As for the game itself, the Eagles defeated the three-time
state champions Badgers 11-10 in ten innings. Afterwards,
both teams displayed an impressive level of respect and
sportsmanship by sharing a post-game meal and sumo-wrestling
lessons. Weeks later, head coaches Zenimura and Hank Slagle
attempted to schedule a rematch in Tucson. Unfortunately,
their request was denied by local authorities.
Zenimura’s disappointment with the cancellation was
echoed by Slagle, who later wrote, “I sincerely hope
it won’t be too long till we are all thinking straight
again and can live together in a true Democracy that we
Americans of all races have created.”
This single ballgame – played during a time when the
nation was deeply divided by war – has become an important
symbol of American brotherhood and goodwill. It also demonstrates
how athletics help transcend barriers created by language,
race, religion, and politics.
more about this legendary game and how to participate
in the upcoming reunion events.