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04/26/2004  7:17 PM ET
Dodgers to celebrate Japanese American Community Night
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LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Dodgers announced today they will celebrate Japanese American Community Night on Wednesday, April 28 when they play host to the New York Mets, according to Dodger owner Frank McCourt.

"The Dodger organization is proud to honor and recognize those individuals, and more specifically, those baseball players, who have helped build relationships between the two countries," said McCourt. "Beginning with the Dodgers' goodwill trips to Japan in 1956 and 1966 and continuing today with players like Hideo Nomo, Kazuhisa Ishii, and Dave Roberts, the Dodgers have shared a long and storied history with Japan."

This year marks the 150th Anniversary of the start of US-Japan relations and the event at Dodger Stadium will be followed by a youth baseball clinic, hosted by Kazuhisa Ishii and the Dodgers on Saturday, May 1.

Presented by Toyota Motor Sales USA, Inc., the festivities will begin on April 28 with a Japanese-themed pre-game ceremony. The opening greeting will be given by the Japanese Consul General Yoshio Nomoto and a kendo demonstration by the Southern California Kendo Federation will also take place. During the ceremony, the Dodgers will recognize local Japanese community organizations and honor Japanese American War Veterans.

Dodger Senior Vice President and Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda will present Satoru Kanazawa, Japanese Government Tourism Department Director General with an honorary Dodger jersey and, in return, Lasorda will receive a happi (traditional Japanese garment) coat. Among the special guests that are scheduled to be involved in the first pitch ceremonies are Wally Kaname Yonamine, the first American to play professional baseball in Japan after WWII and Don Newcombe, the former Dodger great who played with Yonamine for the Chunichi Dragons in 1962.

A two-sport star, Yonamine played for the San Francisco 49ers in 1947, becoming the first player of Japanese ancestry to play in the National Football League. In baseball, Yonamine was a member of four Japan Series Championship teams, the Central League MVP in 1957, a seven-time Best Nine Award winner, and a three-time batting champion in Japan. He was inducted into the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame in 1994 for his achievements during his 12-year career with the Yomiuri Giants and the Dragons.

Newcombe's career with the Brooklyn Dodgers began in 1949 and he remains the only player in Major League history to win the Rookie of the Year, the Cy Young Award and the Most Valuable Player award in his career. A veteran of 10 Major League seasons, he played in the World Series three times. In 1962, Newcombe played three different positions for the Chunichi Dragons when Yonamine served as a coach on the team.

On Saturday, May 1, the Dodger pitcher Kazuhisa Ishii and several other current and former Dodgers will serve as instructors in a community baseball clinic at Dodger Stadium from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The clinic will focus on teaching boys and girls, ages 6-14, fundamental baseball skills and the importance of sportsmanship and recreation. The event is supported by Toyota Motor Sales USA, Inc., Coca Cola, Sparkletts, Kraft, and Panda Express.

The 2004 Japanese American Community Night is presented by Toyota Motor Sales USA, Inc., and is supported by many local community organizations, businesses, and media outlets, including the Rafu Shimpo, Nikkei Credit Union, Japan America Society, Japan National Tourist Organization, Lighthouse Magazine and Bridge USA among others.

The Dodgers will also host Korean American Community Night on Aug. 16 and Chinese American Community Night on Sept. 27. For more information, please contact the Dodgers' Asian Operations department at (323) 224-4271 or

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