Japanese American Baseball in California
By Kerry Yo Nakagawa (This an update of his 2001 classic Through a Diamond.)
Four generations of Japanese Americans broke down racial and cultural barriers in California by playing baseball. Behind the barbed wire of concentration camps during World War II, baseball became a tonic of spiritual renewal for disenfranchised Japanese Americans who played America’s pastime while illegally imprisoned. Later, it helped heal resettlement wounds in Los Angeles, San Francisco, the Central Valley and elsewhere. Today, the names of Japanese American ballplayers still resonate as their legacy continues. Mike Lum was the first Japanese American player in the Major Leagues in 1967, Lenn Sakata the first in the World Series in 1983 and Don Wakamatsu the first manager in 2008.