Conflict & Justice

Baseball in Japanese internment camps

(Remind us what your story was about.) It focused on the interment camps with Japanese and Japanese-Americans of more than 100,000 people were sent to the camps. Even less well known is that they built baseball fields. An American teacher taught the Japanese how to play baseball in 1870 so they already had decades of baseball under their belts when they emigrated to the US in the 1920s and 30s. so they created leagues and started tournaments in America and then in the internment camps. Here's an audio clip from my original piece, and this is a quote of from a researcher of these baseball fields in the internment camps. [Clip of the researcher: the government took away their rights, their religion, their native tongue, but they let them play baseball which became their saving grace.] (Why are you revisiting this story?) Well �The World� became an integral part of this story as it moved forward. Here's my report.

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(This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.)

This movie producer was stuck in gridlock in LA, and he happened to be listening to my story on baseball internment camps. He didn't know this baseball story so he contacted the researcher I mentioned earlier. Together they started cooking up an idea for a movie which would tell the story of what it was like to be in those camps. The producer shopped the idea around for four years without any takers so he followed up on some leads in Japan and reached out to Japanese businessmen who said they would put the money up because these kids who emigrated to the US were their sons or cousins who weren't going to make it in Japan and had to leave, says the producer. With the money in place, a script in class followed. That's how the film �American Pastime� came to be which tells the story of a Japanese family in Utah who was put in an internment camp. The film captures a difficult moment in American history. �American Pastime� was released in theaters last summer, but it is as a DVD that the film has taken on a life of its own, due to the researcher's persistence who has barnstormed the film to American-Japanese communities across the US. The 442nd airforce division was the division which many American-Japanese enlisted into, as a way to get out of the internment camps during WWII and it became the most honored division with many Medal of Honor recipients. Today the 442nd is serving in Iraq. This many was born on July 4th in 1920 and served in the 442nd saw the movie during one stop of the researcher. The film takes the 442nd's slogan, �Go for Broke� and refashions it into a baseball rallying cry. This couple who was in an internment camp says for years no one wanted to talk about the camps because it was too painful and the researcher says people are now opening up because of the film. The Japanese Ministry of Education plans to use the film in school curriculum as well.

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