Baseball in Wartime

Baseball's Greatest Sacrifice


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Those Who Died That Others Might Be Free

 

Purple Heart

Shigeo Igarashi

 

Date and Place of Birth: April 6, 1912 Waialua, Hawaiian Islands
Date and Place of Death: December 3, 1943 Castelnuova, Italy
Baseball Experience: Amateur
Position:
Rank: Private First Class
Military Unit: Company B, 100th Battalion, US Army
Area Served: Mediterranean Theater of Operations

 

Shigeo Igarashi was an American National Guard soldier before the war started, but because of his Japanese heritage he was stripped of his weapon and military duties. But Igarashi was prove how much he loved his country by sacrificing his life on the battlefields of Europe.

 

Shigeo IgarishiShigeo Igarashi was born on April 6, 1912 at Waialua in the Hawaiian Islands. He was educated at Waipahu Elementary School, Oahu where he excelled at baseball. He worked as a skilled laborer at Oahu Sugar Company and was a member of the Hawaiian National Guard.

 

On December 12, 1940, the Hawaiian National Guard was called into federal service and Igarashi initially served with the 298th Infantry Regiment at Schofield Barracks. Like many people in Hawaii, he was Nisei - second-generation Japanese, and on December 7, 1941, when the Japanese attacked the US fleet at Pearl Harbor, everything changed. Americans of Japanese ancestry in Hawaii were treated with suspicion and those in military service found their duties suddenly reduced to menial tasks.

 

Eventually, the 100th Battalion was formed, a fighting unit made up entirely of second-generation Japanese. Igarashi took basic training with the 100th at Camp McCoy, Wisconsin, and quickly became a part of the 100th "Aloha" baseball team. The Aloha team initially played against the military police unit at Camp McCoy but soon found competition in nearby towns. In February 1943, the 100th Battalion moved to Camp Shelby, Mississippi for advanced unit training where the Aloha team continued to play.

 

100th Battalion Aloha Baseball Team

The 100th Battalion left Camp Shelby for North Africa on August 11, 1943. They landed at Oran, Algeria on September 2, where they guarded supply trains for a couple of weeks. It was in North Africa that the Aloha baseball team played their last game. It was against the 168th Infantry Regiment.

On September 19, 1943, the 100th Battalion left the relative safety of North Africa for Italy. They landed at Salerno and went into combat against the Germans on September 29.

 

Private First Class Igarashi died of wounds received in combat on December 3, 1943 near Castelnuovo in Italy. He is buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii.
 

Thanks to Kerry Yo Nakagawa of the Nisei Baseball Research Project and Hawaii State Library for help with this biography. Photo of 100th Battalion team courtesy of Sons and Daughters of the 100th Infantry Battalion Archives.

 

Added August 13, 2006

 

Copyright © 2007 Gary Bedingfield (Baseball in Wartime). All Rights Reserved.