Wally Yonamine

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Wally Yonamine
Wally Yonamine 1951 cropped.jpg
Wally Yonamine in 1951
Born: (1925-06-24)June 24, 1925
Olowalu, Hawaii Territory
Died: February 28, 2011(2011-02-28) (aged 85)
Honolulu, Hawaii
NPB debut
June 19, 1951, for the Yomiuri Giants
Last appearance
October 12, 1962, for the Chunichi Dragons
NPB statistics
Batting average.311
Home runs82
Runs batted in482
As Player

As Manager

Career highlights and awards
Member of the Japanese
Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Baseball Hall of Fame Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg
Wally Yonamine
Position:Running back
Career history
Career NFL statistics
Player stats at NFL.com · PFR

Wallace Kaname Yonamine (与那嶺要, Yonamine Kaname, June 24, 1925 – February 28, 2011), was a Japanese American multi-sport athlete who played in the All-America Football Conference (AAFC) and Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball.

Early life[edit]

Yonamine, a Nisei Japanese American, was born in Hawaii to parents Matsusai (September 1, 1890 – July 31, 1988) and Kikue (February 14, 1901 – February 26, 1999). Yoanmine attended Lahainaluna and Farrington High School.[1]

Professional football career[edit]

Yonamine signed a $14,000 dollar contract, playing running back for the San Francisco 49ers in their second season (1947). Doing so, he became the first football player of Japanese American ancestry to play professional football (Walter Achiu was the first Asian-American).[2] In his one season with the team, he had 19 carries for 74 yards and caught 3 passes for 40 yards. His football career ended during the off-season, when he broke his wrist playing in an amateur baseball league in Hawaii.[2]

Professional baseball career[edit]

In baseball, Yonamine was the first American to play professional baseball in Japan after World War II. A multi-skilled outfielder, Yonamine was also noted for his flexible batting style and aggressive baserunning during his career with the Yomiuri Giants and Chunichi Dragons. In Japan, Yonamine was a member of four Japan Series Championship teams, the Central League MVP in 1957, a consecutive seven-time Best Nine Award winner (1952–58), an eleven-time All-Star, a three-time batting champion, and the first foreigner to be a manager (Dragons, 1972–77).[3]

Yonamine was the first American inducted into the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame, admitted in 1994 for his achievements during his 12-year career with the Giants and Dragons.[2]


Yanomine operated a highly successful pearl store, "Wally Yonamine Pearls", with his wife, Jane. The store is located in Roppongi, Tokyo. They also had a branch of their store in California run by their children.[4] In 2008, Yonamine joined the Japanese Master League team Nagoya 80 D'sers as a coach/part-time player.[5]

After an extended battle with prostate cancer, Yonamine died on February 28, 2011, aged 85, in Honolulu.[1][6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Lewis, Ferd (March 1, 2011). "Hawaii sports pioneer Wally Yonamine dies". Star Advertiser. Archived from the original on December 13, 2020. Retrieved December 13, 2020.
  2. ^ a b c Weber, Bruce (March 4, 2011), "Wally Yonamine, 85, Dies; Changed Japanese Baseball", The New York Times
  3. ^ "Wally Yanomine - Biographical Information". Baseball-Reference.com. Archived from the original on November 28, 2020. Retrieved December 13, 2020.
  4. ^ Gustkey, Earl (June 18, 1989). "WARMING UP TO WALLY : Yonamine, First American to Play in Japan, Was Not an Instant Hit". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on December 13, 2020. Retrieved December 13, 2020.
  5. ^ Carlson, Micheal (June 2, 2011). "Wally Yonamine: Sportsman who fought prejudice in two sports and in two countries". The Independent. Archived from the original on April 1, 2020. Retrieved December 13, 2020.
  6. ^ Song, Jaymes (March 1, 2011), "'Nisei Jackie Robinson' dies at age 85", The Washington Post

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]