Kenichi Zenimura, Japanese American Baseball Pioneer


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About the Book

While the story of the Negro Leagues has been well documented, few baseball fans know about the Japanese American Nisei Leagues, or of their most influential figure, Kenichi Zenimura (1900–1968). A talented player who excelled at all nine positions, Zenimura was also a respected manager and would become the Japanese American community’s baseball ambassador. He worked tirelessly to promote the game at home and abroad, leading goodwill trips to Asia, helping to negotiate tours of Japan by Negro League All-Stars and Babe Ruth, and establishing a 32-team league behind the barbed wire of Arizona’s Gila River Internment Camp during World War II. This first biography of the “Father of Japanese-American Baseball” delivers a thorough and fascinating account of Zenimura’s life.

About the Author(s)

Bill Staples, Jr., is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR), a board member of the Nisei Baseball Research Project, and a past speaker at the Cooperstown Symposium on Baseball and American Culture at the National Baseball Hall of Fame. He lives in Chandler, Arizona. Visit his website at

Bibliographic Details

Bill Staples, Jr.
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 282
Bibliographic Info: 75 photos, appendices, notes, glossary, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2011
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6134-9
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8524-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      ix
Foreword by Don Wakamatsu      1
Preface     3
Introduction      11

1. Athlete in the Making (1900–1920)      13
2. Breaking Down Barriers (1920–1924)      30
3. Only the Ball Was Small (1925–1929)      51
4. The Twilight Era (1930–1941)      78
5. Relocating and Rebuilding Hope (1942–1943)      114
6. A Taste of Freedom (1944)      146
7. Rounding Third and Heading Home (1945)      164
8. Passing the Torch (1946–1968)      183

Appendix A: Select Box Scores      209
Appendix B: Who’s Who in Zenimura’s Career      215
Appendix C: F.A.C. 1924 Tour of Japan      229
Appendix D: Nisei League vs. Negro League      230
Appendix E: Butte Baseball League Statistics, 1943–1945      231
Appendix F: Zenimura Legacy Timeline      233
Appendix G: Japanese American Glossary of Terms      240
Notes      245
Bibliography      259
Index      263

Book Reviews & Awards

  • Winner, SABR Baseball Research Award
  • “Through this solid research, Staples creates a remarkably detailed chronology of Zeni’s life…invaluable…an enjoyable biography of one of the most overlooked stars of American baseball”—Nine
  •  “Hopefully [this book] helps transform a long-neglected chapter of baseball history into a well-chronicled saga for fans of all races, creeds and colors to appreciate.”—Don Wakamatsu, first Asian American manager in major league history
  • “One of the great untold stories of our American pastime, and essential for any baseball faithful.”—Kerry Yo Nakagawa, historian, filmmaker and founder of the Nisei Baseball Research Project
  • “Staples utilizes twenty-first century technology to root out the most obscure facts about his subjects. A groundbreaking effort.”—William F. McNeil, award-winning author of Baseball’s Other All-Stars