Historian gives lecture on baseball and internees of Japanese descent in US

A baseball historian is hoping to increase awareness of how people of Japanese descent who were interned in the United States during World War Two opened up a bridge between the two countries.

Kerry Yo Nakagawa gave a lecture on this topic in Fresno, California, on Saturday.

The event came nine days before the 82nd anniversary of the issuance of an executive order by then-US President Franklin Roosevelt. The directive led to the internment of about 120,000 individuals deemed "alien enemies," including people of Japanese ancestry.

Nakagawa has documented how detainees of Japanese origin played baseball at their internment camps.

He explained that there was a time when people of Japanese descent were not allowed to play for Major League teams. He said some of them were talented enough to play in the MLB.

Nakagawa asked the audience to imagine how much of a tragedy it would be if great Japanese players like Nomo Hideo, Suzuki Ichiro and Ohtani Shohei were only allowed to play behind barbed wire.

Nakagawa said first- and second-generation internees of Japanese descent opened up a "bridge across the Pacific" between Japan and the US.

He said he hopes legacy Japanese players, such as Ohtani and Yamamoto Yoshinobu, will realize that they are standing on the shoulders of the early ballplayers.