Hendrik Beune, Director of AHA MEDIA’s thoughts on the renovation of ASAHI Baseball Diamond in Oppenheimer Park

The beloved Oppenheimer Park in the Vancouver Downtown Eastside is undergoing renovations. In the following video, Hendrik Beune, Director of AHA MEDIA mourns the loss of the historic ASAHI Baseball Diamond.

The Asahi BaseballClub, a group of Japanese Canadian baseball playerswho were interned during the Second World War, is remembered today for victories on thebaseball diamond in the face of discrimination and racist attitudes.

Asahi in Japanese means “morning sun.” Five young Japanese men, fourIssei and one Nisei, formed the first Asahi baseball team in Vancouver,B.C., in 1914. The Nisei loved the game because it was such a big part of North American culture and it was affordable for working-class families. Some parents had even played the game inJapan.  The Asahi Club drew their players mostly from Little Tokyo in Vancouver, and played at thletic Park and Powell Grounds. (Oppenheimer Park)

In general the Asahi were not power-houses or heavy hitters, but they were heroes to the Japanese Canadian community. They dominated senior baseball in the 1930s and 1940s by playing what became known as “brainball” because they relied on bunts, stolen bases, speedand precision fielding. The champion-ship-winning Asahi Baseball Club was popular with both Japanese Canadiansand non-Japanese Canadians. During a time when Japanese Canadians were frequently targets of racism—not being allowed to vote, to teach, nor to work in the civil service or other professions—the barriers of race came down whent he ball was in play. These players taught their fans baseball strategy as well as the true meaning of fair playand sportsmanship. The Asahi remain asymbol of pride not only for Canada’sJapanese Canadian community but also fans of baseball everywhere.

To read more about the Asahi: http://tinyurl.com/nqgx5e
For historical photos and more: http://tinyurl.com/llcaqq


Digging up Asahi Baseball Diamond at Oppenheimer Park

This was filmed by April Smith of AHA MEDIA on a Nokia N95 mobile cameraphone. April is passionate and skilled in making Nokia films by exploring mobile media production through the camera lens of a cellphone. For a better quality version of this video, please DM April Smith @AprilFilms on Twitter.


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