Touching Base with History

HCOS students take the field.

On September 12, 2021, three HCOS students played in the Asahi Baseball Association’s Legacy Game at Nanaimo Park in Vancouver, BC. The players, all Grade 6 students from the Lower Mainland, proudly wore the red and white Asahi colours – Canadian colours. From 1914-1941, the Asahi were a championship baseball team made up of players of Japanese descent, who used a strategy they dubbed “brain ball”, perfecting bunting, squeeze-plays and base-stealing to beat bigger and more powerful teams. While Japanese Canadians were not allowed to vote and treated as “enemy aliens” during the Second World War, the Asahi represented strength and grit, tenacity and endurance. Internment and dispossession of over 21,000 Japanese Canadians for 3.5 years did not break them.

Although the team never played another game after the war ended, the new Asahi Baseball Association, formed seven years ago, is rising up in this generation. Players from any minor baseball association can join the Asahi summer training camps and fall indoor training programs to hone their skills, learn discipline and respect in the Japanese fashion, and become better players on their respective teams in the spring. The highlight of the Legacy Game event was the appearance of 99-yr old Kaye Kaminishi who is the last surviving member of the 1941 Asahi team. He stars in the National Film Board’s Sleeping Tigers documentary, and appears on the 2019 Canadian postage stamp featuring the Asahi. Heritage Christian Online School students and the Asahi share some commonalities in that they are hard-working trailblazers, undaunted by adversity and the challenges they face along life’s path.

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