Asahi Portrait at Nat Bailey Stadium Long Overdue
by Wes Fung
A part of Vancouver’s baseball history is being slowly erased as the years pass by and the few that remember pass on. The Asahi was a Vancouver minor league baseball team during the 20s and 30s made up of Japanese Canadians. At a time when sports was dominated by Caucasian players, the Asahi competed against the best teams of the day, winning 5 consecutive Pacific Northwest championships in the thirties until the team was disbanded and the players interned after Pearl Harbour. It marked the end of a glorious era in Vancouver sports history.
Though there is an annual Japan night at Nat Bailey Stadium and the team was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2003, there are no perennial reminders of these outstanding athletes whose game transcended sport. Asian and Caucasian fans alike embraced the team as their own, voting it as the most popular city team in 1927. At a time when society was sharply divided along racial lines, these underdog baseball players captivated the fans and united a city with their dazzling displays of athleticism and pure love of the game.
The lack of local recognition for the Asahi is neglecting a key part of baseball’s history and is a loss for the sport of baseball. This can be addressed by including an action portrait of an Asahi player among the other portraits of famous black and white ball players that ring the outside of Nat Bailey Stadium. By doing so, the team would be immortalized for future generations of baseball fans and the diversity of west coast baseball’s rich, historic past would be acknowledged and embraced. Discussions are presently taking place with Canadians management.
It’s time to bring the Asahi Baseball Team home: to the city where it all began so many summers ago. They’ve been away far too long.
If you support our initiative, please e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org