nisei baseball 70thSAN JOSE — The Japanese American Museum of San Jose and the Nisei Baseball Research Project are partnering to present “Return to Heart Mountain: A Celebration of Japanese American Baseball” on Sunday, Oct. 26, at 1 p.m. at the Japanese American Museum of San Jose, 535 N. Fifth St. in San Jose Japantown.

It’s the bottom of the ninth, two outs, and a three-two count for Yonsei-Gosei. It’s this generation’s last chance to see the “living treasures” that paved the way for future JA athletes to step up to the plate and become successful. These Nisei all-star legends played at major-league level inside America’s concentration camps during World War II. Come hear the stories and recollections of this “greatest generation” first-hand before time steals them away.

In 1944, an all-star baseball team from the Gila River internment camp in Arizona traveled more than 1,000 miles to Heart Mountain, Wyo., for a series of games against the San Jose Zebras.

“Imagine our joy in breathing the fresh air of freedom after being incarcerated for two and a half years on an Indian reservation,” said Gila River pitcher Tets Furukawa.

The game of baseball gave Japanese Americans a sense of normalcy while being unjustly incarcerated behind barbed wire. Games between Nisei teams from separate camps were rare events, and the journey between Arizona and Wyoming during wartime was among the rarest.

JAMSj and NBRP will celebrate the 70th anniversary of the famous series of games between the Gila River and Heart Mountain ball clubs. Special guests include former ballplayers who will share stories of their experience. Baseball historians Kerry Yo Nakagawa, Bill Staples Jr., and Ralph Pearce will be on hand to talk about how these special guests, as well as many other players, built the Japanese American baseball legacy.

The program will be preceded by an informal social gathering starting at noon (details to be announced later).

Cost: Free with admission to the museum (non-members, $5; students and seniors over age 65, $3; JAMsj members and children under 12, free).

RSVP: Contact or call (408) 294-3138 to reserve a spot.

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