Zenimura.com Lightning Bolts get 16 strikeouts from Alison, win 5-0 over the Blue Bullets

CHANDLER, AZ (March 29, 2014) -- A superb effort by Alison carried the Zenimura.com Lightning Bolts to a 5-0 win in six innings over the Blue Bullets on Saturday at Folley Park.

Alison struck out 16 batters, paving the way for the Lightning Bolts win. She tossed six innings of shutout ball and allowed only two hits.

Sage boosted her batting average thanks to a perfect 3-3 day at the plate to pace the Lightning Bolts. She singled in the first, third, and fifth innings.

The Blue Bullets pitcher lasted five innings, walked two, struck out 12, and allowed five runs.

The game's last lead went to the Lightning Bolts thanks to a first inning rally that saw one run cross the plate on an RBI single by Tristin.

The Lightning Bolts pushed across two runs in both the third inning and the fourth. In the third, the Lightning Bolts scored on an RBI triple by Kyndra, bringing home Sage.

The Lightning Bolts built upon their lead with two runs in the fourth. The inning got off to a hot start when Alison doubled, scoring Krystyna.

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Lightning Bolts lose 4-3 to the Black Widows

CHANDLER, AZ (March 25, 2014) -- Tristin did all she could to give the Zenimura.com Lightning Bolts a boost, but it wasn't enough to get past the Black Widows, as the Lightning Bolts lost 4-3 in five innings at Folley Park on Tuesday.

Tristin racked up two RBIs on one hit for the Lightning Bolts. She homered in the first inning.

The Black Widows pitcher allowed three runs over five innings. She struck out 13, walked three and gave up three hits.

Home runs for the Black Widows came in the second and fourth innings.

Alison was the game's losing pitcher. She walked one, struck out 12, and allowed four runs.

The bottom of the first saw the Lightning Bolts take an early lead, 2-0. After Kyndra singled, the Lightning Bolts kept the pressure on the Black Widows pitching, as Tristin homered, scoring Kyndra.

The Black Widows went up for good in the fourth, scoring one run on a solo home run.

The Lightning Bolts answered the Black Widows' top inning with one run of their own in the fourth. The Bolts scored on an RBI single by Bella.

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Zenimura.com Lightning Bolts Defeat the Comets 12-0 in Perfect Game

CHANDLER, AZ (March 22, 2014) -- Alison was great on Saturday, throwing a no-hitter in the Zenimura.com Lightning Bolts' 12-0 victory over the Comets.

No Comets' batter was able to locate Alison's pitches during the game. Alison threw a perfect game, no-hitter, striking out 10 out of 12 batters and walking none while recording her momentous feat. She got the Comets' last hitter to ground out to Lily at first base for the final out of the game.

Seven runs in the first three innings helped the Lightning Bolts blow out the Comets. A grand slam by Alison in the first inning, a bases loaded walk by the Comets' pitcher and an RBI single by Alison during the second inning supplied the early offense for the Lightning Bolts.

Alison racked up eight RBIs on three hits for the Lightning Bolts. Sage slammed an amazing double, Kyndra added a key single and Tristin recorded three disciplined walks. Shannon and Liberty each recorded RBI's in the Lightning Bolts' victory.

The Zenimura.com Lightning Bolts take on the Delta Diversified ball club next on Mar 25.

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50 Years Ago Today: Masanori Murakami Arrives in Arizona for Spring Training

Marked First Step for Japanese Pioneer in Crossing Baseball’s “Other Color Line”

On March 14, 1964, three young Japanese baseball players arrived in Arizona to pursue their big league dreams. Pitcher Masanori Murakami, catcher Hiroshi Takahashi and third baseman Tatsuhiko Tanaka arrived in Casa Grande, Arizona, 50 years ago today with the hopes of earning a chance to play in the San Francisco Giants organization.

Photo: Rookie Masanori Murakami (center) is greeted by Nikkei baseball pioneers in Fresno, CA, at the start of the 1964 season. Left to right: Kenizhi Zenimura, Sam Yamasaki, Murakami, Johnny Nakagawa, Fred Yoshikawa. Source: Fresno Bee

The article below details how Giants owner Horace Stoneham and Nikkei (Japanese American) baseball pioneer Cappy Harada negotiated the deal that brought the players to the U.S. It also highlights some of the frustrations both the players and the organization experienced with the new cross-cultural situation.

Source: Giants, Japanese Players Mutually Disenchanted, Reno Evening Gazette, April 9, 1964

Murakami's milestone is significant because it marks the start of his journey towards MLB history. Roughly six months later he took the mound at Shea Stadium on Sept 1, 1964, to become the first Japanese player to reach the Major Leagues.

Arizona SABR Chapter president Rodney Johnson does a wonderful job detailing Murakami’s journey from the Cactus League to the majors in the latest issue of the SABR Asian Baseball Research Committee Spring Issue. Check it out.

Instead of recounting Murakami’s journey to MLB history, I’d like to use the 50th anniversary to start a series of blog entries that explore the factors that kept players of Japanese ancestry out of organized ball. I call this baseball’s “other color line.” I want to examine the complex reasons why it existed and also highlight players who attempted to cross it long before Murakami in 1964.

Between now and the September 1, 2014 – the 50th anniversary of Murakami’s first big league game – my blog will cover these milestone events that occurred before “Massy” crossed the “other color line.” They include, but are not limited to:

Major League Milestones

  • 1897, Cleveland Spiders, attempted signing of player known as Sorakichi Matsuda's brother
  • 1905, NY Giants, attempted signing of Shumza Sugimoto, of (“color line” discussed in press)
  • 1934, Philadelphia Athletics, Eji Sawamura, p, declined offer from Connie Mack
  • 1940, Chicago Cubs, Yosh Kawano, Equipment manager (for over 40 years)
  • 1951, STL Browns, Atsushi Aramaki, p, (scouted by Bill Veeck & Abe Saperstein)
  • 1953, NY Giants, Horace Stoneham hires Cappy Harada to scout Japanese talent
  • 1955, NY Yankees, Yankees hire Bozo Wakabayashi to scout Japanese talent

Minor League Signings/Scoutings

  • 1916, Andy Yamashiro, of, Gettysburg, PA (First player of Japanese Ancestry to sign to pro contract, but he passed as Chinese using the name “Andy Yim”)
  • 1932, Kenso Nushida, p, Sacramento, CA
  • 1934, Jimmy Horio, of, Sioux Falls, ND
  • 1941, Henry “Lefty” Honda, p, San Jose, Scouted by the Cleveland Indians
  • 1949, Hank Matsubu, c, Modesto, CA (Pirates)
  • 1949, Jiro Nakamura, p, Modesto, CA (Pirates)
  • 1949, Jose Homma Nakamura, p, Abilene, TX – 1956, Charlotte, NC (Senators)
  • 1951, Wally Yonamine, of, Salt Lake City
  • 1951, George Goto, p, Sacramento, CA (Chi. White Sox)
  • 1952, Satoshi “Fibber” Hirayama, of, Stockton, CA (St.L. Browns)
  • 1953, Ned Iwakiri, p, Visalia, CA (Dodgers)
  • 1954, Carlton Hanta, ss, Beaumont, TX (Cubs)
  • 1956, Bill Nishita, p, Fort Worth, TX/Montreal (Dodgers)

In closing, I will end with a quote from another Murakami, Nikkei ballplayer John Murakami (1919-2005), who observed first-hand baseball’s “other color line” as a member of the Portland Mikados during the 1930s-40s.

“When scouts came to watch a tournament game, they critiqued the players afterward, giving white players tips like throw farther, run faster and hit better. But when they came to me, they said, ‘You might as well forget it. Your people are never going to play professional baseball.’ That really took the wind out of my sails.” -- John Murakami, Portland Mikados

Source: Japanese American Baseball Steps Back Up to Plate, Los Angeles Times, October 11, 1998

Photo: My daughter in her 1964 Masanori Murakami #10 S.F.Giants t-shirt.

Book Signing at Sibley's West Downtown Chandler

Arizona Spring Training 2014
Book Signing @ Sibley's West
Friday, March 7, 2014
6:00 pm to 8 pm

Sibley's West: The Chandler and Arizona Gift Shop
72 S. San Marcos Place
Chandler, AZ 85225

From the Arizona Republic (3/4/14):

From 6-8 p.m. Friday, March 7, two Valley authors will sign copies of their baseball-related books at Sibley’s West in downtown Chandler. Susie Steckner, a Phoenix native and former Arizona Republic reporter, wrote “Cactus League Spring Training” and Chandler’s Bill Staples Jr. wrote “Kenichi Zenimura: Japanese American Baseball Pioneer.”

“Cactus League Spring Training” details the history of major-league teams coming to the state for spring training starting with the New York Giants and Cleveland Indians in 1947. Steckner wrote the book as a volunteer project for the Mesa Historical Museum and that organization provided most of the book’s photos.

“Kenichi Zenimura: Japanese American Baseball Pioneer” chronicles the story of the man recognized as the father of Japanese-American baseball. If follows him from his pre-World War II days through organizing a league among Japanese-Americans who were held at internment camps on the Gila River Reservation during WWII. Zenimura attempted to boost professional baseball leagues in Japan during the 1950s.

Article link and info on other Chandler baseball-related events in March.