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Bringing baseball back to Manzanar

LOS ANGELES - The Manzanar National Historic Site will come alive this fall, with cheering crowds and the crack of a bat.

In 1942, the U.S. government forced 120,000 people of Japanese descent out of their homes and businesses and into incarceration camps. Manzanar was one of ten such camps.

Since there was no known end to their incarceration, the population of adults and children did their best to make life as normal as possible behind the barbed wire.

Even before the war, baseball was a favorite in the Japanese American community.

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Many had played in leagues and when the government said, "pack up, but bring only what you can carry," many brought their baseball uniforms and gloves.

Now, in 2024, the Manzanar Baselball Project aims to bring baseball back.

Volunteers cleared the field of tumbleweeds and plans are being drawn up to build bleachers, the backstop, even an announcer's booth all in time for a September double header.

Dan Kwong sees the games as performance art and consciousness raising to teach those who are not familiar with this chapter in U.S. history.

The players will wear 1940s-style uniforms and wear baseball equipment from the era.

Why baseball?

Baseball "was a way to have a taste of normalcy, it was a way to express their American-ness. It was a statement," Dan said.

To learn more about the Manzanar Baseball Project or donate, tap or click here.