BURNABY (NEWS 1130) – A new Canada Post stamp honoring a Vancouver baseball team that helped break down racial barriers was unveiled in Burnaby on Wednesday.
The Vancouver Asahi was a Japanese-Canadian baseball team that sprung up in 1914, and played for almost three decades on Vancouver’s Eastside.
They were also known for their unique playing style, called “brain ball.”
It was developed to “outplay more powerful teams,” and involved bunting as well as aggressive base stealing.
The team was forced to disband shortly after Canada declared war on Japan in 1941, when more than 20,000 people of Japanese descent were interned.
— Canada Post (@canadapostcorp) April 25, 2019
“Canada’s forcible confinement of Japanese-Canadians during the Second World War remains one of the most tragic events in Canadian history,” Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility, who is responsible for Canada Post said.
Many of the Japanese who were interned were Canadian citizens.
“This stamp reflects the Asahi’s determination to overcome racism and discrimination through the power of sport,” Qualtrough said. “Asahi players exhibited integrity, honour and fair play and were shining examples of what it means to be truly Canadian.”
On hand for the unveiling of Canada Post’s new stamp was the last surviving member of the Vancouver Asahi, 97-year-old Kaye Kaminishi.
It’s a full house at the Nikkei National Museum and Cultural Center for the Vancouver Asahi Canada Post stamp launch. Pictured on stage is Kaye Kaminishi, the last surviving player. The team was Inducted in 2005 and their story continues to inspire generations today. pic.twitter.com/QrARvW4ETm
— BC Sports HallofFame (@BCSportsHall) April 25, 2019
The stamp displays 11 Asahi players from the 1940 team — including Kaminishi, who can be seen in the back row, second from the left.
In 2003, the team was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. The Asahi were inducted into the BC Sports Hall of fame two years later.
Earlier this year, a Heritage Minute shared the story of the pioneering B.C. team, as well as the government that tore them apart.
-With files from The Canadian Press