Thursday, January 8, 2015

Portrait: Tets Furukawa

I met Tets Furukawa in October, 2014 at the "Return to Heart Mountain: A Celebration of Japanese American Baseball" event hosted by the Japanese-American Museum of San Jose. The event was organized by the Nisei Baseball Research Project.
Photo by Andy Frazer
Tets was born in 1927 in Osso Flaco, CA. His family moved to Guadalupe, CA where he learned to play baseball at the the Guadalupe Grammar School. He continued to play baseball Santa Maria High School. After Executive Order 9066, Tets and his family were forced to relocate to the Tulare Assembly Center, and finally to the Gila River interment camp.

"... when I got to Gila it was really horrible. Because the camp was under construction, the wind was blowing. It was kind of unbelievable that the barracks, 20x100 barracks were all lined up and there is only 20 feet between you and the barracks. And the dust storm is so severe, you couldn't see the next barrack. It was really a horrible time."

As a teenager, Tets was a pitcher for the Gila River Eagles. He also played in the legendary thirteen-game series in 1944 at Heart Mountain. Tets says he remembers winning that series, "as though it were yesterday".

Arizona State University has published a transcript of a lengthy interview with Tets.

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