BACK Help Fund Homerun Stories, Programs, and More!

December 06, 2022 |

Meet Kenichi Zenimura, an avid ball player known as “The Father of Japanese American Baseball.” He was one of more than 30,000 Japanese Americans who were imprisoned during World War II in Arizona’s Incarceration Camps.

The Mills High baseball team won back-to-back Island Championships in 1918 and 1919 behind the play of Kenichi Zenimura and Kenso Nushida (second row, last two players at right) and Fred Tsuda (top row, fourth from left.

Despite being stripped of his constitutional rights and forced to live in the Arizona desert, Zenimura never lost his love of baseball. Using flour for foul lines, castor bean plants as outfield fencing, mattresses as a backstop, and bags of rice as bases – Zenimura and his sons built a baseball diamond. “Zenimura Field” hosted hours of practice and games, and Zenimura was both player and manager in tournaments that spread outside of the barbed wire fences.

AHS invites you to discover Kenichi Zenimura’s story and the many others who experienced life in Arizona’s Incarceration Camps through a new exhibit, Rebuilding Home Plate, debuting January 2023 at the Arizona Heritage Center. Here you can witness stories of survival and community, and explore how making a baseball diamond was a small way for those in the desert to rebuild their homes.

Kenichi Zenimura, Johnny Nakagawa, Jimmy Hirokawa and an unidentified teammate enjoy some rest and relaxation in Japan during the 1924 tour.

The Arizona Historical Society, the State’s oldest and only statewide historical organization, is passionate about people. People’s stories. People’s successes and failures. Parents. Children. Individuals. Their stories are here to be discovered, preserved, and shared with the world.

This coming year, AHS will launch exciting new exhibits, programs, and events in all of our museums. Building off the likes of 2022’s Los Desconocidos, On Air, and Climates of Inequality exhibits and events like Tastes, Toasts, & Tales and the Night at the Museum – there’s more to see and do than ever before. Education is on the rise, with a resurgence of field trips and a reimagination of National History Day AZ 2023. We hit new records in 2022 with our Certified Historical Institutions grant program. Recent and future donations of significant statewide collections and archives mean continued preservation and new public access.

AHS celebrates the personal and community stories which shaped our past and guide our future. Noted or notorious, challenging or joyous, AHS loves and preserves our shared past and brings it to life in our present.

Your gift today makes a difference!

Please help us continue to provide these homerun programs and services as we grow as your State Historical Society.

With deep gratitude,

Dr. David Breeckner
Executive Director



P.S. As someone who cares about history’s power and relevance, will you donate by December 31 so AHS can continue to connect people through the power of Arizona’s history? Every dollar counts.

Arizona Historical Society