Kathryn Fitzmaurice

Acceptance Speech

This speech had a slide show that accompanied it. Unfortunately, we don't have the slides and you will have to imagine what the slides look like as you read this speech.

Slide one: I want to thank the Judy Lopez Memorial Book awards.

Side two: In the state of California, there is a middle school competition called National History Day. Many public schools participate in this competition, and the each student is allowed to pick a topic and create a project showing what they have learned. Each year, there is a different theme. The year my oldest son did his project on the atomic bomb, I went to see the other projects, as did many other parents. My son had a very good friend named Danley Shimasaki, and she had recreated the Zenimura baseball field for her project. Her grandfather had played third base for the Gila River team and no matter how many times I walked around the auditorium, I kept going back to her field. I was fascinated by it. I asked her if I could interview her grandfather. I thought I would write an 800-word article for Highlights magazine. So she gave me his phone number and he agreed to the interview. When I finished the article, I sent it to Carolyn Yoder at Highlights. She bought it and helped me to revise it and when we were done, she said, you know, this would make a great book. You should consider writing one. Maybe, I told her. It seems like a lot of work, all of that research. But I went to the Pacific Archives building in Laguna Niguel and I asked the research attendant to order all nine rolls of the Gila News Courier, which was the newspaper that was published in the camp, which had been put on microfiche. And when it came in, I went back and forth until I had read through all four years.

Slide three: And then, I called back Mr. Shimasaki and asked him if he would agree to a more in depth interview. He told me, listen, I don’t remember very much besides that one game. If you really want the details, you’ll need to call Tets Furukawa. He’ll know everything, because he was our pitcher. So I called Mr. Furukawa, and he told me the entire story. . .over the course of the next year. I would call him and we would talk for two or three hours on the phone. He told me every detail of his life, what he ate, where he slept, who his friends were, what they did for fun, but the best parts were the parts about the baseball field.

Slide four: Here is a closer map of the Butte camp, where the Furukawa family was assigned.

Slide five: Here is a photo of the team. It was customary for the players to sign their name over their chest.

Slide six: Here is an original page from the Gila News Courier. In order to print these pages from the microfiche, I had to insert a dime into the machine and then hope it would print out. Half the time it would print, and other times, I couldn’t get it to so I would have to copy down the page for the newspaper. Because this was an original document, I had to be very careful. When entering the archives building, you cannot take even a water bottle inside. You have to go through a metal detector and let the guards look through your purse, and often times, you have an escort, who watches you to make sure you hare handling the documents correctly.

Slide seven: Here is a photo from a baseball game played at Gila River. You can see how most people either brought a folding chair or stood along side the baselines.

Slide eight: This is a wonderful photo of Tets at age 13. He was the first baseman here, and had not yet been asked to be the pitcher.

Slide nine: One of my main concerns about writing this story was the fact that I wasn’t at Gila River, and I wasn’t Japanese. And even though I had read all four years of the newspaper and placed three timelines, in the form of sticky notes, on my office wall, one of the events that had happened at the camp, one of the events that happened during WW2, and one of the events that happened in baseball at that time, I still needed to make sure my writing was correct. So with each draft, I would print the entire manuscript and send it to Mr. Furukawa. He would read through the manuscript and if I had any errors, he would note them on the side, as you see here. He would then send the pages back to me and I would make my corrections.

Slide ten: Here is a page from the copy editor, who is in charge of checking all of my facts. You can see some of the comments as we try to make the story as accurate as possible.