Baseball helped lift spirits at Arizona WWII internment camp

From Weldon B. Johnson at the Arizona Republic on March 8, 2013, with mention of SABR member Bill Staples Jr.:

It is regarded among the darkest episodes in Arizona history, but people coped and got through it.

The stories of Japanese-Americans held at the Gila River Internment Camp, just south of Chandler, during World War II will be told at the Sunset Library on Saturday morning [March 9].

The free presentation, “From Internment to Hope: Arizona Celebrates Japanese-American Baseball,” is 10:30 a.m.-noon at the library, 4930 W. Ray Road, at Rural Road. The discussion will touch on war, politics, race relations, and sports.

Two men who played baseball in that camp, Tets Furukawa and Kenso “Howard” Zenimura, will join Chandler resident Bill Staples in the discussion. Staples is an author and baseball historian who heads the Society for American Baseball Research’s Asian baseball-research committee.

More than 13,000 Japanese-Americans were confined at Gila River during the war. Baseball was among the ways they coped. The game also was used to bridge the gap with the outside world.

“They loved baseball,” Staples said. “Then they taught it to their children as a way to kind of prove to everybody they were just as American as the next guy. In many ways they used the game of baseball to break down those barriers.”


Read the full article here:

Originally published: March 9, 2013. Last Updated: March 9, 2013.