Frank Hiroshi Nakamura

Selected from nigun for ability at bat to clout the ball. Quiet by nature, respected by opponents. Batting promise fulfilled with the 1926 championship. In a 1927 win during team’s lean first Senior A season at Athletic Park, was called “the big noise in the victory of the Asahis, getting three hits, one a triple, out of four trips to the plate.” Later Asahi business manager and treasurer, 1934-1938.

Frank Hiroshi Nakamura
Second Base 1923-1934

1923 - 1934
© National Nikkei Museum and Heritage Centre 2007. All Rights Reserved.


Yo Yutaro Horii

One of the original Asahis. Known as the Asahi catcher of the decade. Heckler-resistant. With brothers Mickey as pitcher and Eddie at centre field, formed the backbone of the early team’s defense on the Diamond. Considered a superb player by his contemporaries for his mental and physical agility.

Yo Yutaro Horii
Catcher 1914-1926

1914 - 1926
© National Nikkei Museum and Heritage Centre 2007. All Rights Reserved.


Eddie Eizaburo Kitagawa

Long career player with the Asahis, three times champion. Early team mainstay with brothers Mickey Kitagawa and Yo Horii. A hard hitter always at the top of the batting order. Big 1920 season stealing 24 bases and earning awards for most bases on balls and leading outfielder. Toured Japan with Asahi all-star team in 1921. Asahi team captain, nigun coach, and later team manager 1930-1931.

Eddie Eizaburo Kitagawa
Centre field, manager 1917-1931

Awards
1920 Leading Outfielder and Most Bases on Balls, City Senior Amateur Baseball League

1917 - 1931
© National Nikkei Museum and Heritage Centre 2007. All Rights Reserved.


Junji George Ito

“King of Bunting.” College graduate from Japan. Outstanding infielder, described by sportswriter as “a peppery third sacker.” Played with Asahi Tigers in 1921. 1919 championship experience helped team break through in 1926. Expert sacrifice hitting and safety squeeze play made him the Asahi master bunter. Earned five career award citations, with a .400 batting average in 1925.

Junji George Ito
Third base 1918-1926

Awards
1920 Leading Sacrifice Hitter, City Senior Amateur Baseball League
1921 Leslie Fraser Medal – Leading Sacrifice Hitter
1923-1924 Batting Honours, Terminal League
1925 Batting Crown, Terminal League
1925 Waltham Gold Watch, Terminal League

1918 - 1926
© National Nikkei Museum and Heritage Centre 2007. All Rights Reserved.


Roy Yamamura

The favourite with fans. Cool, clear-headed player barely five feet tall. Incomparable stealing bases. Described as one of the smartest shortstops and most daring base runners ever seen in Vancouver. Played shortstop with the winning British Columbia Champions in 1926. Signed with Vancouver’s top division Arrows in 1931 for two years. Remained with the Asahi as an invaluable player and manager 1938-1941.

Roy Yamamura
Shortstop 1923-1941

Awards
1925 Leading Base Stealer, Terminal League
1938 Asahi Batting Champion, tie with Kaz Suga at .400

1923 - 1941
© National Nikkei Museum and Heritage Centre 2007. All Rights Reserved.


Harry Sanzoku Miyasaki

Began with the Asahis as a first baseman and occasional catcher. Played with the Asahi Tigers in 1921. In 1922 became coach and manager of the Asahis. Acclaimed as the greatest manager in the club’s history. Perfected Asahi strategy and feeder system. Called the “McGraw of Powell Street” for his success managing the Asahis to win the Terminal League championship.

Harry Sanzoku Miyasaki
First base, Manager

Awards
1920 Leading Infielder, City Senior Amateur Baseball League

1918 - 1929
© National Nikkei Museum and Heritage Centre 2007. All Rights Reserved.


Tom Niichi Matoba

One of the original Asahis. An amiable and sociable out-fielder legendary for his powerful hitting. Known to Athletic Park fans as “Slugger” for his many home runs. In the outfield capable of sensational one-handed catches running in among fans. League leader in 1920 reaching first base the most and stealing bases. Long career with Asahis a source of encouragement and a model.

Tom Niichi Matoba
Outfield 1914-1930

Awards
1920 Leading Base Stealer and Player to Reach First Base the Most, City Senior Amateur Baseball League

1914 - 1930
© National Nikkei Museum and Heritage Centre 2007. All Rights Reserved.


Ty Kenichi Suga

One of the best pitchers in Asahi history. Left-handed. Nicknamed after American League star Ty Cobb whose “inside style” Asahi strategy resembled. Pitched the Asahis to four Vancouver senior league championships. Later pitched the Lemon Creek All-Stars to the 1943 Slocan Valley Championship. Coached the Montreal Nisei Baseball Team late-1940s.

Ty Kenichi Suga
Pitcher 1923-1939

Awards
1926 Best Pitcher, Terminal League
1934 Leading Pitcher, Terminal League

1923 - 1939
© National Nikkei Museum and Heritage Centre 2007. All Rights Reserved.


Frank Shiraishi

Popular Asahi left fielder, enjoyed a lot of support from fans. Memorably swift chasing fly balls in left field. Notorious base-stealer capable of rallying in extra innings to steal winning run. Contributed to a decade of Asahi championships in the outfield and on occasion as a starting pitcher. Also demonstrated prowess at bat, winning Asahi team batting award in 1936.

Frank Shiraishi
Left field 1930-1941

Awards
1936 Asahi Batting Champion

1930 - 1941
© National Nikkei Museum and Heritage Centre 2007. All Rights Reserved.


Most popular Vancouver baseball club between first and second world wars. Only ethnic team and only team of colour in Vancouver senior leagues in their era. Known for “brainball” – unique running game of strategy, speed and daring based on bunting and stealing bases. Began in 1914 as a youth team. Broke into Vancouver senior league play in 1918, went on to become top gate attraction. Won ten senior baseball championships 1919-1940. First Canadian club with multilevel youth teams system. Forced to disband 1942. Inducted in Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and British Columbia Sports Hall of Fame.

Highlights

1919 International League Champion • 1921 Tour of Japan
1926, 1930, 1932, & 1936 Terminal League Champion • 1935 Exhibition play with Tokyo Giants
1938 Triple Champion – Burrard, Commercial, Pacific Northwest Japanese Leagues
1939 & 1940 Burrard Champion • 1937-1941 Pacific Northwest Japanese League Champion
Most popular Vancouver baseball club between first and second world wars. Only ethnic team and only team of colour in Vancouver senior leagues in their era. Known for “brainball” – unique running game of strategy, speed and daring based on bunting and stealing bases. Began in 1914 as a youth team. Broke into Vancouver senior league play in 1918, went on to become top gate attraction. Won ten senior baseball championships 1919-1940. First Canadian club with multilevel youth teams system. Forced to disband 1942. Inducted in Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and British Columbia Sports Hall of Fame.

Highlights


1919 International League Champion • 1921 Tour of Japan
1926, 1930, 1932, & 1936 Terminal League Champion • 1935 Exhibition play with Tokyo Giants
1938 Triple Champion – Burrard, Commercial, Pacific Northwest Japanese Leagues
1939 & 1940 Burrard Champion • 1937-1941 Pacific Northwest Japanese League Champion

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

Vancouver Asahis

Only ethnic team and only team of colour in Vancouver senior leagues in their era.

National Nikkei Museum and Heritage Centre
1914 - 1941
© National Nikkei Museum and Heritage Centre 2007. All Rights Reserved.


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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