New translation of book about Vancouver’s legendary
Asahi baseball team launches December 17, 2pm
at Nikkei National Museum & Cultural Centre
Story of Vancouver Asahi, a Legend in Baseball
By Norio Goto
Translated by Masaki Watanabe
“What I really wanted to record for posterity in the context of a baseball team called the Asahi were the candid voices of Nikkei Canadians straight from their heart.”
– Norio Goto
From its formation in 1914 to its final game in 1941, the legendary Asahi baseball team captured the hearts of BC’s Japanese Canadian community through their unique style of baseball, dubbed ‘brainball,’ that utilized speed, bunts, stolen bases, timely hitting, excellent defence and strong pitching. Their determined and competitive play, coupled with their sense of sportsmanship, endeared them not only to the local community, but to the larger Caucasian community, earning them fans throughout the Vancouver area.
While the team was able to “level the playing field” in the ballpark, this unfortunately did not translate into the wider social and economic domains, where Japanese Canadians continued to face prejudice and racial discrimination, culminating in the forced expulsion of Japanese Canadians from the west coast following the bombing of Pearl Harbor in late 1941.
The Asahi baseball players carried their love of the game to the internment camps in the interior of BC, where they organized baseball teams and leagues, as well as playing themselves, ensuring that their legacy would not die with the dissolution of the team.
In recent years, the Asahi have been recognized for not only their contribution to BC’s baseball history, but their importance in the pre-war Japanese Canadian community and their ability to build bridges where few existed. The team has been inducted into both the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and BC Sports Hall of Fame and has been the subject of both books and films.
Norio Goto’s exhaustively-researched book, Story of Vancouver Asahi, a Legend in Baseball, first published in Japan in 2010, captures the development of the team from their early struggles to their ascension to status as fan favourites, and ultimately league champions, to the internment years and beyond. A longtime sports broadcaster, he documents the baseball in painstaking detail while putting the team in the context of the times they were playing in, creating in the process a fascinating snapshot of a community that fought long and hard for acceptance against great odds. Goto also provides a window into baseball as it developed in Japan, and the crossover between teams from both Japan and North America.
A new English-language translation by Vancouver’s Masaki Watanabe makes Story of Vancouver Asahi accessible to English-language readers for the first time, adding an important chapter to the story of the Asahi baseball team.
The book will be launched on Saturday, December 17 at 2pm at the Nikkei National Museum & Cultural Centre with Mr. Goto in attendance. Refreshments will be served.
For more information, contact
Grace Eiko Thomson