by Lorie Lewis Ham
Special coupon for Dinuba Platinum Theatre at the end of this review.
With baseball season upon us I thought I’d review one of the few baseball movies I’ve ever seen, American Pastime, which is about a Japanese baseball team that forms within an internment camp.
The movie opens showing the life of a typical American family of Japanese descent in 1941, the Nomura family–both sons being American born. They are forced to leave their Los Angeles home and their business following the infamous Executive Order 9066, signed by Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Order 9066 permitted the “exclusion” of Japanese Americans from the West Coast of the United States, and actual historic footage shows the rounding up of these families, most of whom were (like the Nomura sons) born as American citizens.
The Nomura family find themselves in a desert camp, where the elder Nomura, having been a professional baseball player at one time, forms an in camp league to give them something positive to do. One of the guards, Billy Burrell (Gary Cole), is a minor-league baseball player, bitter about having been passed over by a recruiter from the New York Yankees, who dreams of a second chance.
One of the sons enlists in the Army, and the younger son who starts out angry and rebellious over the internment, finds a more positive way to express his frustration when the camp team challenges Burrell and the local minor league team to a game.
This movie is based on true events and serves as a reminder of the unfair treatment of Japanese Americans during World War II. It also shows how foolish bigotry is, how people really can change when faced with the truth, and how people can rise above a horrible situation and find some good. Throw into the mix of course a forbidden romance and American Pastime makes for an inspiring and enjoyable movie whether you are a fan of baseball or not.
Released in 2007, American Pastime can be purchased on DVD on Amazon.
If you’re headed to the movie theatre this week, find out what is now playing at Dinuba Platinum Theatres 6. Showtimes can be found on their website.