In the beginning …

Vancouver was a brand-new city in 1887 when its first game of baseball was played. By 1900, spectators flocked to the Powell Street Grounds to see Vancouver’s own semi-professional club. In 1905, the top professional team moved to the new Recreation Park.

During the peacetime

Between 1918 and 1939, more than 50 senior teams of young men played baseball in British Columbia in a network of leagues. Most were amateur, sponsored by businesses and clubs, though some players were supported with finding work or under-the-table funds.

Leagues flourished

Competition among young players developed the sport. At the end of every season, champion teams from the three leagues on Vancouver Island and six leagues on the mainland came together in playoffs for the provincial baseball championship.

The first Nikkei teams

The Vancouver Nippon Baseball Club was the first Nikkei team t Read More
In the beginning …

Vancouver was a brand-new city in 1887 when its first game of baseball was played. By 1900, spectators flocked to the Powell Street Grounds to see Vancouver’s own semi-professional club. In 1905, the top professional team moved to the new Recreation Park.

During the peacetime

Between 1918 and 1939, more than 50 senior teams of young men played baseball in British Columbia in a network of leagues. Most were amateur, sponsored by businesses and clubs, though some players were supported with finding work or under-the-table funds.

Leagues flourished

Competition among young players developed the sport. At the end of every season, champion teams from the three leagues on Vancouver Island and six leagues on the mainland came together in playoffs for the provincial baseball championship.

The first Nikkei teams

The Vancouver Nippon Baseball Club was the first Nikkei team to form, in 1908. Another team formed soon after in Victoria, and in 1910 they challenged the Vancouver Nippons at Powell Street Grounds. When the Vancouver club later folded in 1918, the Asahis picked up some of its best players.

Vancouver City Senior Amateurs

Reinforced in 1918 by new recruits, the Asahi club, begun in 1914 as a youth team, broke into the amateur Vancouver International League. In 1920, the Asahi were one of four clubs to play in the Vancouver City Senior Amateur Baseball league, with the Independent Longshoremen’s Association, Canadian Pacific Railway, and Sprott-Shaw teams.

Vancouver Terminal League

The Asahi club’s first years in the Terminal League from 1921 to 1926 honed their unique style of play with local teams like Mount Pleasant and St. Augustine ’Stags.’ Later, in 1930, they would return to star again in this league, playing the Meralomas, Abbotsford Hotel, and IOCO Imperials at Con Jones Park.

Senior ’A’ baseball

In 1927, the Asahis were invited to join the Senior ’A’ Baseball league at Athletic Park. The popular Asahis drew big crowds playing in this prestigious league until 1929. When umpiring was unfair, sportswriters lauded the team for fighting "to the last inning without a squawk." Despite their style, against sponsored teams bolstered with imported semi-pros the Asahi club could not win enough games to ever get out of the league basement.

Tokyo Giants visit

In the mid-1930s, the first Japanese professional ball club came to town. Named the ’Giants’ by baseball promoter Lefty O’Doul, they were Japan’s best. With the Asahis and the Terminal League All-Stars, the Tokyo squad played a series of exciting exhibition games. Thrilled Nikkei fans collected autographs.

Burrard and Commercial leagues

When the popular Asahis quit the Terminal League after the 1935 season, the league folded the next year. In 1936 they competed in the senior ‘B’ Commercial League. From 1937 to 1941, the team also played in the Burrard League. The Asahi club topped the leagues often against teams like the Patricias, the Angels, Merritt-Gordon, and the Western Monarchs.

Pacific Northwest championship

The Asahis played other teams of Japanese descent in places around British Columbia in exhibition games, though they did not compete in a Japanese ethnic league. But every year up until 1941, the Vancouver Asahi team contested the Pacific Northwest championship with a Seattle club.

© National Nikkei Museum and Heritage Centre 2007. All Rights Reserved.

Oppenheimer Park

Oppenheimer Park, Dunlevy and Cordova streets, Vancouver, B.C..

Shokichi Akatsuka Fonds
c. 1920
JCNM 92/20.022.
© Japanese Canadian National Museum


Collingwood vs. Young Liberals

Collingwood vs. Young Liberals, Vancouver Senior Amateur Baseball League, Athletic Park, Vancouver, B.C..

BC Sports Hall of Fame and Museum
1924-07-30
250.7b
© BC Sports Hall of Fame and Museum


The Nippon Baseball Club

The Nippon Baseball Club, Vancouver, B.C..

From Pat Adachi, Asahi: A Legend in Baseball
Courtesy of J. Tokunaga.
c. 1910
© Courtesy of J. Tokunaga


Vancouver Asahi baseball club

Vancouver Asahi baseball club.

Courtesy of the Kitagawa Family
1915
© Courtesy of the Kitagawa Family


Vancouver Asahi baseball club

Vancouver Asahi baseball club, Powell Street Grounds, Vancouver, B.C.

Courtesy of the Kitagawa Family
1922
© Courtesy of the Kitagawa Family


Players on the bench

Vancouver Asahi players on the bench.

L-R: Ken Kutsukake, Roy Yamamura, Yuki Uno, Herbie Tanaka

Courtesy of Pat Adachi
c. 1940
© Courtesy of Pat Adachi


Vancouver Asahis and Seattle Taiyos

Vancouver Asahis and Seattle Taiyos, Seattle, Washington.

Ochi Studio, Seattle
Photo compliments of G.Y.N., Courtesy of Reggie Yasui
1934-07-01
© Reggie Yasui


Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • Identify and discuss the social conditions of the Nikkei in Canadian society;
  • Describe the influence of Asahi on Canadian population;
  • Explain the positive aspects of such a sport organization;
  • Deduct, from the information given in the exhibition, an overview of Canadian society before the Second World War.

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