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Talk Baseball with Steve Kluger

April 6, 2023 @ 7:00 pm 8:00 pm

It’s Spring in New England, and that means mud, occasionally snow, and baseball. To talk all things
baseball, including his efforts to restore the baseball field at Manzanar Internment Camp, Malden Reads
is pleased to host best-selling author and baseball enthusiast, Steve Kluger.

Kluger, author of several books including Last Days of Summer and Changing Pitches, will visit the
Malden Public Library on Thursday, April 6, 2023 at 7 pm. to discuss baseball, the Red Sox, and his
involvement in lobbying the US Government to restore the baseball field at Manzanar Internment Camp
in Manzanar, CA.

In the aftermath of Japan’s bombing of Pearl Harbor, the U.S. government ordered 120,000 Japanese
Americans to be imprisoned in hastily built camps. They were given 48 hours to sell their homes,
businesses, and possessions and were able to take only what they could carry—typically two suitcases
per adult. These camps were surrounded by barbed wire, equipped with search lights, and patrolled by
armed guards. Japanese-American citizens’ draft eligibility was reassigned as 4C, enemy alien status, in
the process.

They Called Us Enemy by actor/author/activist George Takei, the Malden Reads selection for our 13th
season, takes place during these years. This book is a memoir of Mr. Takei’s youth while incarcerated
during WWII in an internment camp, and tells not only his personal story, but chronicles a difficult time
in American history.

Life in the camps was hard and people were looking for distractions to keep their spirits up. Baseball had
been introduced in Japan in the 1870’s and was very popular there as in America. Baseball teams were
formed within seven of these camps and four of the teams were able to travel to play each other.
“Without baseball, camp life would have been miserable,” said George Omachi, a prisoner who later
became a scout for Major League Baseball.

In 2000, although the Department of the Interior began restoring Manzanar as a historic landmark, this
project did not include the renovation of the baseball field. Mr. Kluger joined a group lobbying the U.S.
government to begin that restoration process that was approved in 2022. To quote Mr. Kluger, “A
memorial to Manzanar without its baseball diamond is like the Pledge of Allegiance without the
flag…baseball was perhaps one of the few aspects of the lives they’d led prior to incarceration that they
were allowed to keep with them after everything else had been taken away. The inclusion of a diamond
might achieve what reparations alone couldn’t facilitate: healing.”

This talk is free to the public and will be held at the Malden Public Library’s Converse Art Galleries from
7-8 pm with a Q&A following. Light refreshments will be served.