Author: Ted Hirayama, B Company
Title: Notes on Kenneth Kaneko As An Athlete
Puka Puka Parades, August 1997
Source: Puka Puka Parades, April 1997, #97-8
Ted Hirayama writes of his memories of Kenneth Kaneko playing baseball and basketball while training on the mainland.
There are 2 athletic events with the 100th that are indelibly etched in my mind. One was in baseball and one was in basketball.
Baseball in Wisconsin
During the summer at Camp McCoy, Wisconsin, the sun did not set until about 10PM. So, after retreat which is 6 PM, there were still about 4 hours of daylight. Hence there was sufficient time for us to travel to neighboring towns to play ball games against them like Viroqua, Marshfield, Wisconsin Rapids, to name a few. But the one I remember is Green Bay. Green Bay is in eastern Wisconsin, while Camp McCoy is in western Wisconsin. So we had to travel to Green Bay by railroad and spend a weekend there. We played a night game. I remember that game well because I was asked to sit in the radio booth to help the announcer with the 100th players since we were total strangers to him. The Green Bay team was a professional farm team and so they were selected young, good pro prospects. Physically we were so small in comparison to them that we must have looked like a grammar school team against a college team.
Lefty Mizusawa was our pitcher and the announcer remarked “He must be about 5’2.” Lefty pitched a great game. He kept the ball low and was pitching fast strikes over the inside and outside corners. The crowd was yelling every time the umpire declared “Strike!” in appreciation of this small half pint pitcher keeping the much bigger team from scoring for about 6 innings. At last one batter got hold of one of the pitches and lined a line drive near the right field line. It looked like a sure extra base hit but out of nowhere the right fielder snagged the ball for an out.
The announcer yelled, “Where did he come from? What’s his name?” I said, “Kenneth Kaneko” and the announcer said over and over, “Ladies and gentlemen, these guys from Hawaii are showing us how the baseball game should be played. The game’s already started, but come anyway. They play ball like pros and they’re teaching us how it should be played. I can’t get over it. You’ve got to see it to believe it. They may be small, but they play like superb big timers.” Then a Green Bay slugger drove the ball to deep right center against the wall. Ken retrieved the ball from the fence and threw it to Joe Takata, the center fielder, who threw to Mushie Miyagi, the second baseman, and Miyagi wheeled around and threw to Yozo Yamamoto at 3rd base who tagged the sliding runner for an out when it had looked like a sure triple! The crowd went wild and the announcer was raving over and over again, “Ladies and gentlemen, that was a classic relay from the outfield to cut down a triple that I’ve ever seen and these little guys from Hawaii are displaying baseball the way it should be played in a World Series!”
I witnessed-this from the radio booth; I don’t think I’ll ever forget it.
Basketball at Camp Shelby
The 100th had a basketball team at Camp Shelby. Jim Lovell had a fast-break team that ran roughshod over the opponents for the first few games. But there was another team which was undefeated and it was a good team for they had some pros on that team. But when we met them in a showdown game, our boys were stymied. I still can picture him bodily fading away from his opponent and tossing a hook shot that was all net. He was consistent with it and although we lost the game, the image of Ken and his hook shot has never left me.