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Ports to Honor "Fibber" Hirayama, Nisei Players07/07/2009 1:00 PM ET
STOCKTON, Calif. -The Stockton Ports are excited to announce that the organization will honor 1952 Ports alumnus, Satoshi "Fibber" Hirayama, and several Nisei players from Stockton and Lodi Japanese-American semi-pro baseball teams for the first Japanese-American Baseball Heritage Night at Banner Island Ballpark on July 10.
The Ports will honor Hirayama and former semi-pro players in an on-field ceremony prior to the 7:05 p.m. Ports game on July 10. Among the several semi-pro players to be recognized will be Ted Kamibayashi, one of the few living members of the 1940 Stockton Yamato team, which won the Nor-Cal Championship. The Ports are proud to honor each former player and their contributions to baseball in Stockton.
Each player will be recognized and will throw out a ceremonial first pitch. The Ports are also proud to welcome Consul General Yasumasa Nagamine, from the Consulate General of Japan in San Francisco, who will also throw out a ceremonial first pitch.
Hirayama, who grew up playing baseball, attended Fresno State on a football scholarship, and played halfback. He turned to baseball in the spring, and had a tremendous career with the Bulldogs on the diamond. He set a college record with five stolen bases in one game and stole 76 in a season. He was an All-Conference player and batted .420 in 1950. He was the team captain for two years and was twice voted the Most Popular Player at the National Baseball Congress tournament.
Hirayama was signed by the St. Louis Browns, becoming among the first Japanese-Americans signed to a professional baseball contract, and spent the 1952 season-his only one in any American professional baseball league-with the Stockton Ports. That season with the Ports, he batted .264 and stole 20 bases. He walked 71 times with just 23 strikeouts in 92 games.
In 1955, at the urging of Kenichiro Zenimura, a Nisei baseball legend, he signed with the Hiroshima Carp and played baseball in the Nippon Pro Baseball league in Japan. He was a two-time All-Star in the NPB, in a career that spanned to 1964.
Following retirement from playing, Hirayama turned to scouting and returned to California. He served as a scout for the California Angels and the Hiroshima Carp, helping to sign Tim Ireland, who managed the Ports in 1992. He was also a Clovis Unified School District teacher and administrator for 30 years.
The Ports are excited to honor Hirayama and so many other Nisei players at the Japanese-American Baseball Heritage Night event on July 10.
For more information, please contact the Stockton Ports at (209) 644-1900.
To read the 1958 Sports Illustrated cover article on Hirayama, please click here.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.