A Field of Dreams at Internment Camp

From Richard Ruelas at The Arizona Republic on April 9, with quotes from SABR member Bill Staples:

Ken Zenimura was crazy about baseball. Even after the government, which feared Japanese-Americans couldn’t be trusted during World War II, forcibly relocated him from Fresno, Calif., to a camp in the desert 50 miles southwest of Phoenix, he had baseball on his mind.

Zenimura was among 120,000 Japanese-Americans who were forced into 10 incarceration camps in the western United States and Arkansas in 1942. They were moved from the western halves of Washington, California and Oregon, which the government considered military areas.


Over the next few weeks, Zenimura organized a league. Twelve teams paid a $5 entry fee to be part of the camp’s major league. Another 12 teams were part of the minor league, the Gila News-Courier said. Fans paid a nickel to watch.

The league would field an all-star team against outside squads, usually beating them on the home field, said Bill Staples, a Chandler baseball historian who has written a biography of Zenimura.

“The best baseball in Arizona during World War II was played inside these internment camps,” Staples said.

Read the full article here: http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/arizonaliving/articles/2011/04/09/20110409azjournal0409.html

Originally published: April 11, 2011. Last Updated: April 11, 2011.