Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Frank K. Omatsu Interview
Narrator: Frank K. Omatsu
Interviewer: Sharon Yamato
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: October 24, 2011
Densho ID: denshovh-ofrank-01-0012

<Begin Segment 12>

SY: So what was your impression when you first got to Santa Anita, though, besides seeing your car in the parking lot?

FO: We saw all these people, but we didn't know where they came from or who they were or anything. But it was interesting that we saw all these young ladies. And St. Mary's formed a softball team while we were in camp in Santa Anita. And the San Diego bunch was ahead of us, and they were a solid softball team, they had a solid team. So guys like us, we were still in high school. So our neighborhood, we all played together, so we formed a team and we joined the league. And we almost caused a riot because, us young kids, we were ahead of the San Diego bunch.

SY: You were better.

FO: Yeah. And I think we lost the final, final out, I think we lost by one run. But that stirred up the camp.

SY: The whole camp?

FO: Yeah. Because the whole camp was out there watching the championship game. So we were all invited. Well, we were young kids, and these guys, they were all fishermen and stuff like that. So they had a good pitcher.

SY: So when you say you almost started a riot, it was kind of... what exactly happened?

FO: Well, the competition was so intense, and everybody was rooting for one team or the other. So everybody got all excited, every ball counted. We had one play that I argued about, and that kind of stirred up the people. Now, the Exclusive 20s, I don't know whether you're familiar with the Exclusive 20s.

SY: No.

FO: They were the downtown boys, they were the real yogores, and they were the toughies. So they were behind us. They were ready to fight. But the cooler heads like Father John and Mas Satow and all those guys who were the leaders of their group, they kind of calmed everything, everybody down.

SY: Wow. So there was actually a group from downtown.

FO: At Santa Anita.

SY: At Santa Anita, and they had a name. They were like a... was it considered a gang?

FO: Yeah.

SY: And so it was a bunch of young people.

FO: Young people, that's right. If you come into... if you come into downtown Little Tokyo, if you look at them, they wanted to pick a fight.

SY: Oh, this was before the war, even?

FO: Yeah, they'll tell you, "What you lookin' at?"

SY: They were young people that...

FO: Young people, yeah.

SY: Oh, interesting. So you came, you encountered them in Little Tokyo before the war.

FO: A little bit, not much. But we used to go to, they used to go to the skating rink down here by the Olympic stadium, there used to be a skating rink somewhere. And if you're skating with a young lady, they would try to take her away from you and all that competition.

SY: Very interesting.

FO: So it was rough in those days, you know?

SY: Just among the Asians it was rough.

FO: Yeah.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.