The Lucky Baseball: My Story in a Japanese-American Internment Camp (book)
Creators: Suzanne Lieurance
Book cover. Courtesy of Enslow Publishers
View in the Densho Encyclopedia
A Japanese American boy is forcibly removed from his home in Southern California and incarcerated in a concentration camp but learns important life lessons through continuing to play baseball.
Harry Yakamoto, a 12-year old boy, lives in Seven Cedars, California, with his father and grandparents, who run a restaurant in town. He loves baseball, and is overjoyed when he wins a baseball signed by Joe DiMaggio at a local drawing. His life is disrupted when Pearl Harbor is attacked; his friend Mike's father is taken away by the FBI because he is a fisherman, and his own father is questioned and their home is searched. His father hears that families that volunteer to be incarcerated will be kept together, and volunteers to go to Manzanar . Mike and his family go as well. Harry takes his special baseball with him.
Once at Manzanar, his father and grandparents quickly take jobs at their local mess hall which becomes the most popular one because they are such good cooks. Harry, Mike, and Mike's sister all play baseball and work on recruiting other kids to play on their teams. Harry's father does not like the guards but Harry secretly gets baseball lessons from a guard who befriends him and decides that not all white people are bad. Harry and his friends organize a big baseball game and Harry is the winning pitcher.
When Manzanar closes, Harry's family and Mike's family return to Seven Cedars. Harry has learned to stand up for himself and is no longer intimidated by the bullies who won't play baseball with Japanese American kids.
Suzanne Lieurance has written over thirty books. She also advises and coaches others who are interested in writing as a career.
Harry explains that there is no fence around Manzanar when his family first arrives, and that the camp administration is not concerned that inmates will try to escape because Manzanar is so isolated and anyone who escapes will have no where to go. However, Manzanar concentration camp was located only seven miles north of the town of Lone Pine and several miles south of Independence, making it one of the less isolated concentration camps. Authorities subsequently constructed a barbed wire fence around the camp.
Might also like Baseball Saved Us by Ken Mochizuki; A Diamond In the Desert by Kathryn Fitzmaurice; The Journal of Ben Uchida: Citizen 13559, Mirror Lake Internment Camp, California, 1942 by Barry Denenberg