KAMLOOPS – Shortly after World War II many interned Japanese families were allowed to move into the Interior of B.C. and made the city of Kamloops their home. Amongst these families were a small group of young Japanese men who wanted to pursue and create a baseball team.
This team, originally known as the Kamloops Nisei Athletic Club (KNAC) and eventually commonly known as the North Kamloops Mohawks, was formed in 1952. The name “Mohawks” was chosen because it was thought at the time to be a neutral name, being so soon after the war. Also, during this time names like Cleveland “Indians” and Chicago “Blackhawks”, were very popular major sport team names.
The league was run by the B.C. Interior Baseball League with teams from Kamloops (Jay-Rays and Mohawks), Rutland (Adanacs; with Koga brothers: Mits, Morio, and Sue), Vernon, and Merritt. In previous years, there was also a team from Revelstoke (with big Pradolini brothers).
The North Kamloops Mohawks were a well-coached and managed team. The ‘Mohawks’ first coach was Seiji Kazama, who coached for the first one or two years. He was followed by Pat Miyahara, with Johnny Shimodaira as their team manager. The KNAC sponsored the team while local businesses donated uniforms for the players.
The North Kamloops Mohawks successfully played baseball between the years 1952-1957. During that time they won two consecutively B.C. League Championships (1955 and 1956). The also won two B.C. Interior tournaments.
After many successful years, the North Kamloops Mohawks had to disband due to the lack of Japanese players to carry on their legacy. On April 13, 2013, 61 years later, the North Kamloops Mohawks were one of the inductees into the 2013 Kamloops Sports Hall of Fame held at Thompson Rivers University. Over 380 people attended, 80 of whom were ball players, family members, and friends of the North Kamloops Mohawks team.
George Uyeda & Ken Kochi
This article appeared in the June Issue of Nikkei Voice.