The University of Arizona

The Importance of Baseball to Japanese American Communities and Culture on the West Coast during the Pre-War Years and World War II

Sarah Elizabeth Johnson


Baseball has a long history as “America’s pastime.”  From neighborhood games in city streets and suburban fields, to all-star games on the professional level, it has become a staple in American culture. This sport acts as an equalizer as people of every background can come together to play as a team. Japanese Americans during the Pre-War years and World War II used baseball in this same way, as an equalizer to show their identities as Americans, while still honoring their Japanese ancestry. It served as a bridge between two cultures and as an escape from their reality during World War II as an entire population became enemies of their own nation when the Japanese Empire attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii in December of 1941. Using primary sources from Issei and Nisei commentaries, as well as, other secondary sources from scholars, this paper will address the history of baseball as a part of Japanese American culture and its role in their communities in the years before the war.

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