Baseball in Wartime

Baseball's Greatest Sacrifice


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Those Who Died That Others Might Be Free

 

Masaru Yamamoto

 

Date and Place of Birth: August 5, 1919 Waialua, Hawaiian Islands
Date and Place of Death: November 29, 1943 Scapoli, Italy
Baseball Experience: Amateur
Position: unknown
Rank: Private
Military Unit: 100th Infantry Battalion US Army
Area Served: Mediterranean Theater of Operations

 

Masaru Yamamoto was born in Waialua in the Hawaiian Island on August 5, 1919. He attended McKinley High School in Oahu and was employed by E E Black Ltd as a painter before entering military service on November 14, 1941.

 

Initially, Yamamoto 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. Yamamoto 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.

 

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 Yamamoto was killed in action at Scapoli, Italy, two months later on November 29, 1943.

 

Masaru Yamamoto is buried at the National Memorial Cemetery 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 November 14, 2006

 

Copyright © 2008 Gary Bedingfield (Baseball in Wartime). All Rights Reserved.