Baseball in Wartime

Baseball's Greatest Sacrifice


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Those Who Died That Others Might Be Free

 

Purple HeartBronze StarMushie Miyagi

 

Date and Place of Birth: September 24, 1915 Aiea, Oahu, Hawaiian Islands
Date and Place of Death: November 5, 1943
Venafro, Italy
Baseball Experience: Amateur
Position: Second Base
Rank: Sergeant
Military Unit: Company E, 100th Battalion US Army
Area Served: Mediterranean Theater of Operations

 

Mushie Miyagi was a second-generation Japanese who willingly fought for America and died on the battlefields of Italy.

 

Masayoshi "Mushie" Miyagi was born at Aiea, Oahu in the Hawaiian Islands on September 24, 1915. Like many people in Hawaii, he was Nisei - second-generation Japanese. He attended McKinley High School where he starred on the school baseball team and went on to play in the Hawaiian amateur leagues.

 

Miyagi entered military service on December 10, 1940 and served at Schofield Barracks, Oahu. One year later Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese and while most Japanese-Americans were sent to internment camps, the Japanese-Americans of the Hawaiian Territorial Guard became the 100th Infantry Battalion - a fighting unit made up entirely of second-generation Japanese.

 

Miyagi married Kimiko Takahashi of Hilo on June 1, 1942 before heading to the mainland for basic training with the 100th at Camp McCoy, Wisconsin. The young second baseman quickly became a part of the 100th "Aloha" baseball team which initially played against the military police unit at Camp McCoy but soon found competition in nearby towns. In a memorable game against a minor league team in Green Bay, Wisconsin, Miyagi was part of an outstanding defensive play. "An opposing batter hit a towering drive over our rightfielder's head," remembers "Aloha" team manager Takashi "Ted" Hirayama remembers. "After the outfielder retrieved the ball, he threw it to Joe Takata, who was playing center. Joe relayed it on a line to Mushie Miyagi, our second baseman, who then turned and threw the ball on one skip to the catcher, who tagged the surprised runner out. I still remember the announcer saying that it would take a major league team to make a play like that, and these little guys from Hawaii just did it. They play like pros."

 

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.

 

Sergeant Miyagi was killed in action near Venafro, Italy on November 5, 1943. He was awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart and 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 14, 2006

 

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