Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Hy Shishino Interview
Narrator: Hy Shishino
Interviewer: Sharon Yamato
Location: Cerritos, California
Date: January 31, 2012
Densho ID: denshovh-shy-01-0015

<Begin Segment 15>

SY: So you were able to play, continue playing sports at Gila.

HS: Yeah, we had our own basketball team. They built a basketball court there. Then this Kenichi Zenimura was, in Fresno he was an ardent baseball fan from the time, 1928 or something he got Babe Ruth to go to Japan with six ball players. So the first thing he did was, on one corner of the camp, he built a baseball field, so they called it Zenimura Field.

SY: And how old was he?

HS: He must've been in the, forty, between forty and forty-five I'd say.

SY: So he was older. And he had, did all the kids play there?

HS: Well his, he had a fifteen year old son and a, I don't know, fourteen, fifteen, he had two boys and so baseball was his love, so those two boys were good baseball players from the time they were young.

SY: And was he like a coach too?

HS: Yeah. He coached the team. In fact, our block played against his team, and that's the only time I ever played hardball in my life, 'cause in junior high school we had softball leagues.

SY: So you played, you just played one game? Was that at Gila River, or did you --

HS: Yeah, I only played one game hardball. That's all I, just, our block had two older guys that loved baseball and so they formed a block team, and then we played against Zenimura's team. They were from Fresno. So naturally, they had a good team 'cause Zenimura was coaching. [Laughs]

SY: So was he well-known in the camp as a...

HS: Oh yeah, he's famous -- even afterward, in Phoenix they named a park after him. It's called Nozomi Park, I think, but it's Nozomi, Zenimura Field. And the city of, this little, I forget what town... Chandler? They knew what, actually, I think it was Chandler High School had an all-star high school team, and so Zenimura formed this all-star Gila team, and it went into twelve innings, I think. It was tied at ten-nine. And anyway, the Gila team beat the Chandler all-stars, and so that's written up in our history of Gila. And then I think they went to Heart Mountain too, and played against the Heart Mountain team. I don't know how they got permission to take the team out of camp and go to Heart Mountain and come back to camp again, but...

SY: So you were well-known, this Gila River team was well-known.

HS: Yeah, it was, thanks to Mr. Zenimura.

SY: That's really great. But you, but you continued really playing more basketball than baseball.

HS: Yeah, well, I wasn't very good at either. [Laughs] 'Cause we'd just pick up teams, just did it to bide time.

SY: And your --

HS: I never had a date and I never did anything all through high school. I just played baseball or basketball. [Laughs]

SY: But how about in camp? Were you more social? Did you go to the dances?

HS: There wasn't much dancing because there wasn't a big enough room. One time when one of the, my buddy's sisters was leaving for Chicago, why, we had a small dance in the rec hall. But I remember there was, she played basketball. It was, she, and so they had some of the girls basketball team -- I remember they were from up north, near Walnut Grove anyway -- and so that girls team and my buddy's two sisters, why, then some of us from our block, we had a small dance group and social, but it was nice.

SY: But for the most part, what, there wasn't a big social life among the guys and the girls?

HS: No.

SY: You mostly hung out with other --

HS: I never did any dancing 'til one time when one of my buddies had a recording of Glenn Miller's tunes, and so he was trying to teach me how to dance, so my first dance partner was my buddy Fred. [Laughs] So all we did was kind of do a jitterbug, stepping a little bit, triple time.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.