The Vancouver Asahi: The Search for Hall of Fame Medalists' Families

The legendary Vancouver Asahi team was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2003 and the British Columbia Sports Hall of Fame in 2005. It was more than 60 years since the team was disbanded by the outbreak of the World War II in 1941 so that many players and their families were  unidentified or were not tracked down.

The author's uncle Shoichi Shima was one of the first Asahi players, but also one of these players who didn't receive a medal. He happened to find out about his uncle after his retirement. He not only researched the Vancouver Asahi but also read through various historical documents about British Columbia, then, fueled by this new passion, he began research to track down the other unidentified families. This series introduces my process of investigation as well as stories of Asahi players and their families.

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Motoji Kodama, one of the founders of the Vancouver Asahi

As already explained in my preceding essays, many Vancouver Asahi players or their families didn’t receive their honorary medals despite being inducted into the BC Sports Hall of Fame because their contact information were unknown. Motoji Kodama was one of the founders of the Vancouver Asahi that was formed in 1914 as well as the Nikkei Canadian Baseball Team ”Nippon,” that was formed four year ahead of the legendary Vancouver Asahi Team. He is also one of the Asahi members whose induction medal was unclaimed.  

Motoji Kodama was born in Hiroshima, Japan in 1877. In 1898, at the age of …

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Yozaemon Kondo, Vancouver Asahi’s first player 

The legendary Vancouver Asahi, strongest Nikkei baseball team before WWⅡ, was little known in Japan. However, their induction news in 2003 and 2005 became a hot topic in Japan. Yuya Ishii directed a film in Japanese, The Vancouver Asahi in 2014, on the centennial of its formation. The film premiered at the 2014 Vancouver International Film Festival and received the People's Choice award.

In Feb. 2011, three years ahead of the release of the film, there was an exhibition on immigration to North America in Hikone City, Shiga where many Asahi players were from. In the exhibition, a group photo …

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George Iga, a Seattle-based Vancouver Asahi Player

The legendary Vancouver Asahi Baseball Team was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2003 and the British Columbia Sports Hall of Fame in 2005. Honorary medals were prepared for each Asahi player, but many remained unclaimed. In 2014, I happened to find that my late uncle Shoichi Shima, who was one of the earliest Asahi players, never received an induction medal. Subsequently, I received the medal on my uncle’s behalf. Since then, I have been voluntarily tracking down those Asahi families with unclaimed medals.

One of the medalists was George Iga. With huge support from Dr. Marie …

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Yobun Shima Uncovers a Baseball Legacy

Yobun Shima was born and raised in Kyoto, Japan, and lived in Tokyo for most of his life, working for a shipping company until he retired about a decade ago. That is when he started tracing his family’s footsteps.

Yobun’s grandfather moved from Japan to Vancouver in 1907. A few years later, his grandfather’s family, including a son named Shoichi Shima, joined him. In 1914, Yobun’s father, Fred, was born in Vancouver.

Yobun discovered that his uncle Shoichi was one of the earliest members of the legendary Vancouver Asahi baseball team that played from 1914 to 1941. This was the …

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Asahi baseball Canada George Iga Hall of Fame hall of fames Hikone issei Japanese Canadian Motoji Kodama Seattle Asahi Shiga vancouver Vancouver Asahi Yozaemon Kondo