Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim declared Thursday, Jan. 11, Vancouver Asahi Day to honour the legendary team that played in the city from 1914 to 1941, before being disbanded due to the internment of Japanese Canadians in 1942.
1-day honour marked on the birthday of last surviving team member, Kaye Kaminishi, who turned 102CBC News
· Posted: Jan 11, 2024 10:15 PM EST | Last Updated: 8 hours ago
Kaye Kaminishi, in his Asahi baseball jersey, is featured in a Heritage Minute video released in February 2019. (Historica Canada)Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim declared Thursday, Jan. 11, Vancouver Asahi Day to honour the legendary team that played in the city from 1914 to 1941 before being disbanded due to the internment of Japanese Canadians during the Second World War.
The one-day honour was marked on the birthday of Kaye Kaminishi, the last surviving member of the team from its pre-First World War era, who turned 102.
“Dad grew up in Vancouver, he was born and raised in Vancouver, and for him to be recognized … he’s still sort of in disbelief,” Kaminishi’s son, Ed Kaminishi, told CBC.
The Asahi Baseball Association was established in 1914 and played at a field on Powell Street, where Oppenheimer Park is now located.
Honoured to declare today as #VancouverAsahiDay! 🎉
Join me in celebrating Koichi Kaye Kaminishi’s remarkable 102nd birthday, a living legend from the original team. Despite facing adversity during WWII, the Asahi team embodied resilience and passion for baseball.
—@KenSimCity”The Asahi were the pride of the Japanese Canadian community and a symbol for equality and respect in times of harsh racial discrimination,” says the team’s website.
The Asahi Baseball team still fields youth teams, and plays in games and tournaments in Canada, Japan and the U.S.
Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim, right, declared Thursday Vancouver Asahi Day to honour the iconic baseball team and celebrate the 102nd birthday of the team’s last surviving member, Kaye Kaminishi (left). (CBC)Ed Kaminishi said he’s not sure why the Asahi team still resonates with people, but that the team represents the resiliency of the Japanese people.
“It’s amazing how it’s kept on.”
Kaye Kaminishi, 102, is the last surviving member of the legendary baseball team that played in the city from 1914 to 1941. (CBC)Born Jan. 11, 1922 in Vancouver, Kaye Kaminishi grew up in Hiroshima, Japan, where he learned to play baseball in school, before his mother took him back to Canada in 1933 after his father’s death.
In 1939, he joined the Japanese Canadian baseball team as a rookie at 17, and mostly played third base.
The Asahi was a powerhouse in the West Coast during the ’30s, winning many league championships during a time when Japanese Canadians faced discrimination in employment and political participation.
During the Second World War, Kaminishi and his teammates, along with 22,000 other Canadians of Japanese descent were sent to internment camps — a slice of history featured in a Heritage Minutes video released in 2019.
Kaye Kaminishi received the Jan. 11 proclamation on behalf of the team.
“[Today] is a celebration of the Asahis, the baseball team, the legends, and it’s also in recognition of the unjust policies back during the Second World War and basically how Japanese individuals, their rights were taken away,” Sim said.
“It’s about a rebirth of the Asahis going forward.”
On The Coast4:28Today was proclaimed Vancouver Asahi Day
CBC’s Caroline Chan visits with the family of Kaye Kaminishi to help celebrate the 110th anniversary of the Asahi Baseball team.
With files from Chad Pawson and Caroline Chan