Top: 1940 Arizona Compress; Bottom: 1943 Guadalupe YMBA
This historic match up was detailed in my book, "Kenichi Zenimura, Japanese American Baseball Pioneer." The excerpt from the Zenimura biography is featured below. Click here to read the original article from Oct. 19, 1943.
Chapter 5. Relocating and Rebuilding Hope (1942–1943), (pgs. 141-142)
"It was a common practice for Zeni to sweeten the pot to encourage visiting ball clubs. Shortly after the T-Bird series he placed ads in the Arizona Republic seeking more outside teams to play.166 Another former Arizona state champion accepted the offer and within days Zenimura had a contest booked against a ball club that called themselves the “Phoenix Colored Nine,” which appeared to be the Western Compress ball club with some new players. The visitors’ line-up included: catcher Hamilton; catcher-Manager James Searcy, first base Fisher, second base Fulice, shortstop Lewis, third base Brakeen, left-pitcher Williams, center field Westbrook, right field Harris, pitchers Meyers, Bonner, utility Harol and Coach Eli.167
The outcome of the October game was a trouncing of the visiting team, with Butte smashing the Phoenix Colored nine, 11–3. The all-star for Phoenix’s black squad was Leon “Sugar” Westbrook, an outfielder and pitcher in the Texas Negro Leagues, Arizona semipro leagues, and the West Coast Negro Baseball Leagues. Westbrook was considered a tough out and a solid hitter who could spray the ball to all areas of the field. He was described as both a tough competitor, yet someone who made the game fun by telling jokes or performing trick catches in the outfield. 168
Cornell Fisher, Arizona Compress ballclub, 1941
Years later Cornell Fisher Jr., who was only age 5 at the time of the Butte All-Star vs. Negro Nine contest, recalled his father returning home from the Japanese American internment camp at Gila River with a baby pig.169
Perhaps not too coincidental, just a week before the game the Gila News Courier reported the start of a new livestock class to offer students the opportunity to learn how to handle livestock. Among the animals were an estimated 100 pigs kept at a hog farm a few miles away from the Butte Camp.170 It’s quite possible that Fisher, after receiving his earnings from the game at Zenimura Field, bought a piglet on his way out of the camp. By the end of the 1943 the hog population at Rivers was an estimated 1,700.171
Kenso Zenimura has fond memories of the game and the comedy displayed by the black ball team. “They committed a lot of errors,” recalled Kenso, “but most of them were because they were acting silly; trying to catch the ball behind their backs, making trick catches and throws.”172
166. “Phoenix Colored Horsehiders to Appear Sunday,” Gila News-Courier, October 14, 1943, 6.
167. “Phoenix Colored Nine, Butte Pick-Ups Cross Bats Tomorrow,” Gila News-Courier, October 16, 1943, 6.
168. “Phoenix Colored Nine Smashed by Butte, 11–3,” Gila News-Courier, October 19, 1943, 6.
169. Interview with Cornell Fisher Jr., September 2008.
170. “Livestock Class Offers Experience,” Gila News-Courier, October 12, 1943, 3.
171. “Three Hundred Hogs Arrive,” Gila News-Courier, December 23, 1943, 5.
172. Interview with Kenso Zenimura, February 2008.
173. Interview with Kaz Ikeda,September 2008.