First championship

Five short years after getting their start as a youth team, the Asahis matured into the leading club in the Vancouver International League. They won their very first championship in 1919.

Key players

Among those first champions were a handful of key players like Harry Miyasaki, Tom Matoba, Junji Ito and Eddie Kitagawa. They would lead the club to a long string of future Asahi championships.

Evolving contenders

As the sport developed, as the leagues grew and play moved from sandlots to new ballparks, the Asahis evolved, too. By the mid-1920s, the team vied for top spot in Vancouver’s Terminal Baseball League. Asahi Coach Harry Miyasaki dreamed of winning the championship.

Terminal League champions

Unique style, disciplined training and good sportsmanship. In the 1926 season, the Asahis brought it all together. They made Harry Miaysaki’s dream come true. “Term Read More
First championship

Five short years after getting their start as a youth team, the Asahis matured into the leading club in the Vancouver International League. They won their very first championship in 1919.

Key players

Among those first champions were a handful of key players like Harry Miyasaki, Tom Matoba, Junji Ito and Eddie Kitagawa. They would lead the club to a long string of future Asahi championships.

Evolving contenders

As the sport developed, as the leagues grew and play moved from sandlots to new ballparks, the Asahis evolved, too. By the mid-1920s, the team vied for top spot in Vancouver’s Terminal Baseball League. Asahi Coach Harry Miyasaki dreamed of winning the championship.

Terminal League champions

Unique style, disciplined training and good sportsmanship. In the 1926 season, the Asahis brought it all together. They made Harry Miaysaki’s dream come true. “Terminal League Is Won By Asahis” shouted the newspaper headline, “Japanese Steal Nine Bases In Deciding Game!

Returning champions

After their dry sojourn in the senior ‘A’ league from 1927 to 1929, the Asahis returned to win the Terminal League pennant again in 1930. The Asahi club went on to win the Terminal championship for a third time in 1932, and again in 1933.

’Triple’ champions

The Asahis won the Commercial league championship the first year they competed for it, 1936. They won it again in 1937, and in 1938 the Asahis were ’Triple’ champions winning the Commercial League, Burrard League, and Pacific Northwest Japanese championships. The team were Burrard League champions again in 1939 and 1940.

Pacific Northwest dominance

From 1928 through 1941, the Asahi club was victorious eight times in eleven series of championship play for the Pacific Northwest crown. Against teams of Japanese descent, like the club from Fife, Washington, the Asahis won the title five years in a row from 1937 right up to their final season in 1941.

© National Nikkei Museum and Heritage Centre 2007. All Rights Reserved.

Vancouver Asahi baseball club

Vancouver Asahi baseball club, Championship of International League, 1919.

F.S. Fujiwara, photographer. Courtesy of the Kitagawa Family.
1919
© Courtesy of the Kitagawa Family


Video - Key Players

Eddie Kitagawa with journalist Norio Goto in "Shirare zaru Kanada Asahi-gun,"

Translation:

[Eddie Kitagawa] We practiced very hard whenever we had time. That’s why, thanks to this hard training, we won the Terminal League Championship in 1926 for the first time.

[Norio Goto] The Terminal League was all Caucasians …

[Kitagawa] That’s right.

[Goto] And the Asahi …

[Kitagawa] And the Asahi …

[Goto] … joined that league.

[Kitagawa] That’s right, that’s right.

[Goto] You must have been so happy.

[Kitagawa] It felt like we had won the World Championship (laughter).

JNN Hodo Tokushu, TBS
1994
© JNN Hodo Tokushu, TBS


Video - Evolving Contenders

Ken Kutsukake with journalist Norio Goto at Powell Street Festival, Vancouver, in "Shirare zaru Kanada Asahi-gun,"

[Norio Goto] How many years after the war did you come back here?

[Ken Kutsukake] 28 years.

[Goto] And how did it feel like?

[Kutsukake] I thought, like, how small it is, the field.

[Goto] And you used to play baseball here …

[Kutsukake] Yes, yes …

[Kutsukake] I still remember. Yamamura and I used to play catch here. Fast balls. He was very fast.

[Goto] Oh, ah …

[Kutsukake] You grab it, the ball, and without changing it like this, you’d throw it. Throw it this way or that way. So it was very fast.

[Goto] I see, I see …

[Kutsukake] So it was pretty serious.

[Goto] So it was like you’d compete who can throw the fastest.

[Kutsukake] Oh yeah. We used to play until eight-thirty or so, then we’d call it a day since it was getting dark.

[Goto] I see.

JNN Hodo Tokushu, TBS

© JNN Hodo Tokushu, TBS


Vancouver Asahi baseball club

Vancouver Asahi baseball club, Terminal Baseball League Championship, Eddie Kitagawa as manager, 1930.

Courtesy of the Kitagawa Family
1930
© Courtesy of the Kitagawa Family


Burrard-Commercial-Pacific Northwest Japanese Triple Champion Asahi Baseball Club

Burrard-Commercial-Pacific Northwest Japanese Triple Champion Asahi Baseball Club, 1938.

Columbia Studio. Courtesy of Reggie Yasui.
1938
© Courtesy of Reggie Yasui


Ken Kutsukake

Ken Kutsukake, catcher, Fife player at bat, Powell Ground, Vancouver, B.C., 1939.

Ken and Rose Kutsukake Collection.
1939
© Courtesy of the Kitagawa Family


Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • Identify and discuss the social conditions of the Nikkei in Canadian society;
  • Describe the influence of Asahi on Canadian population;
  • Explain the positive aspects of such a sport organization;
  • Deduct, from the information given in the exhibition, an overview of Canadian society before the Second World War.

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