Saturday, March 8, 2014


As the second installment in our "Purpose Pitch" presentation makes clear, there was more to baseball on the west coast of America in the early twentieth century than the Pacific Coast League.

The sport became a key component in the cultural assimilation of immigrant groups. One of the most prominent of these--and, due to the events and ramifications of World War II, the most forgotten--was the Japanese-American community.

Ben Sakoguchi here pays homage to his own baseball-player forebears in "Nipponese-American Brand," where he continues to display his pronounced penchant for team pictures as compositional devices. We also see an example of Ben's "split-screen" technique, which is a frequent motif, allowing for historical and thematic contrasts.

The Baseball Reliquary became fascinated with baseball's function in cultural assimilation, and it would  affiliate itself with a team of historians and researchers who've explored the history of baseball in various West Coast immigrant groups. In the realm of Japanese-American baseball history, one of the most prominent and energetic chroniclers has been Kerry Yo Nakagawa, whose work in this area was recognized as early as 1998, when a traveling exhibition entitled "Diamonds in the Rough" toured across the United States.

You can read more about this exhibition in Hans Greimel's Los Angeles Times article from October 1998.

Ben Sakoguchi also shows his penchant for verbal puns, locating them quite often (as he does here) in an ironic California place name, usually (but not always) referring to a location where oranges (after all, this is still "orange crate art") might be able to grow.

Then again, they might not...