The Official History of the Houston Caper
By Taisho Mas Yamasaki
The seeds for the birth of the Houston Caper were planted in Dayton, Ohio in 1982. The Dayton Chapter of the JACL had sponsored a Midwest District Council meeting that spring of '82. And with its conclusion I decided to invite the delegates to a golf tournament for a couple of days. Several Dayton members participated including Pete Hironaka, cartoonist for the Pacific Citizen. Other participants from out of town were Kaz Mayeda, George Sakaguchi, Gerry Shimoura, and Gordon Yosikawa. Kaz and Gerry bunked with the Yamasaki’s and Sakaguchi stayed with Gordon in Cincy. True to tradition, everything clicked and the group clamored for future outings. Thus was born the short-lived Yamasaki Invitational.
Plans were discussed for a Yamasaki Invitational at Dayton in 1983. Yosikawa engineered plans for an Invitational golf cap that was hand made. He also came up with engraved tees, a practice that he still carries out at all the Houston Capers. Gordon’s frau, Kathy, sent a bento box for all the golfers to consume after nine holes – the birth of our running tab. The group then was much younger and immature and partying was an important function. (Shades of Cadillac Bar and the Banzai parties at the Nippon restaurant in Houston.) Poor Gerry had to undress and put his roomie to bed after those wild escapades.
After two years of trial and tribulation I decided to bail out of Dayton and make tracks to the Deep South, Houston, to join son Lance and grandson Chris. In 1984 I attended a JACL meeting with George “Who” in Los Angeles. One evening we hit the bar and lo and behold, there sat in a booth, all by his lonesome was Kaz Mayeda. One drink led to another and before you knew it, they had me pinned down and demanded that we make plans for a tournament in Houston. I grudgingly agreed after they bought me another drink. Ye Gods, 15 years! A week in March was picked a sedates for the tournament, being Professor Mayeda’s Spring Break from Wayne State University.
The First Caper was comprised of four golfers: Kaz Mayeda, George Sakaguchi, Pete Fujioka, and Mas Yamasaki in March of 1985. Those three out-of-towners created more problems that first year than the 15 years of Capers with over 39 golfers. George “Who” flew into Intercontinental and the Detroiters into Hobby. Of course, I was the Transportation Chairman. At Intercontinental the public speaker asked me to call home. Kaz and Pete forgot their tickets and missed their flight. They arrived two hours later. The course was Sharpstown Country (?) Club. We played for four days.
Plans for Houston Caper II were discussed for March of 1986. Caper II had over 12 participants and it has continued to grow the past 15 years. The Caper logo was the brainchild of Daimyo Sam Honda and he presented a few samples of the proposed Logo. Of course when I saw the initials “MY” on one of the logo proposals, that was my selection. Incidentally, Sam Nakano might have been one of the participants in Dayton. One of the highlights during the successful run of Houston Capers was the 10 anniversary. We had the past National President, Cressey Nakagawa as a participant. The Caper is well represented by JACL members. It was a revelation to find that Kay Sugimoto was the aunt of Gerry Shimoura. Naturally Roy became an active participant and assumed the role of one of the Shoguns. Roy was an avid golfer and was member of The Woodlands Country Club. Roy was responsible for the group claiming The Woodlands North as one of its home courses.
One year we entertained the thought of buying a sack of raw oysters and shucking them ourselves at one of our parties but cooler heads prevailed. We would picture ourselves with cuts and bruises trying to grip a golf club. Fifteen years of gold memories and beautiful friendships. A lot of water has gone under the bridge but the Caper continues to flow along peacefully, picking up momentum. We’ve lost several of our outstanding participants – Shogun Pete Fujioka, Shogun George Sakaguchi, Shogun Roy Sugimoto and Him Miyazaki, but we continue to pick up speed because of the groundwork laid by their contributions. A lot of headaches, responsibility and frustrations but it’s been worth all of it because we have a rock solid group of doers and contributors. Mayeda and I are going to be here for our 20th anniversary in the Year 2005. You’ll still hear about the history of the Houston Caper from the both of us.
THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES!
2003 in Review
In retrospect, a most successful and fantastic year for Houston Caper, 2003. Like Shogun Mayeda's fine Chardonnay wine, the Caper seems to age and improve with the years. The Caper is very well JACL oriented and they pulled a coup, when Floyd Mori, national JACL president, joined its rank as an active contributing member. The Houston JACL is sponsor of the caper. The founders, George Sakaguchi, Kaz Mayeda and Mas Yamasaki, served as governors of the Midwest District. Kaz also served on the national board. During the turbulent years, when national staff resigned and the national board was in tatters, Bill Yoshino, Midwest director, assumed command, and was glued to the fax machine and the telephone from the clarion, after a round of golf. He took over as national director until order was restored. . He had plenty of help from the Caper as many of them were serving in various capacities. Randy Shibata, ex - governor, Mt. Plains and national board, Jim Miyazaki, national board, Dave Hayashi, ex-governor, Midwest District, and national board, Ronin Mukai, at large,and currently, Dave Kawamoto, national board. As Taisho stated, we are JACL oriented. On our 10th. anniversary, ex-national president, Cressey Nakagawa participated in the caper. Sink your teeth into this: Houston Caper 1xx, March 21 through 26.
Sunday 03/21: Blackhorse North, Shogun Mayeda's welcome kamo's.
Monday 03/22: Tour 18, chair Shogun Yoshikawa, Pete Fujioka memorial.
Tuesday 03/23: Augusta Pines, chair Ted Hirabayashi and the Hirabayashi clan, Sam, Dan.
Wednesday 03/24 Tournament Players Course, Shogun Shimoura, Roy Sugimoto memorial.
Thursday 03/25: Woodland Panther Trail, chair Chuck Matsumoto and the Matsumoto entourage, Ron, Roy
Friday 03/26: Old Orchard, Daimyo Honda I guess the Stableford system.
2003: Memorial day, hosted by Ronin Mukai in Chicago. Everyone held their breath and had their finger crossed. What a revelation. Fabulous, fantastic, and everything planned precisely with even mileages listed from point a to b. Ronin is really getting into the act, and will make a pitch for fall caper, 2004. In July it was our annual trek to Shanty Creek, Michigan. How can you improve upon perfection? Shogun Shimoura produced another wall banger. Shanty Creek is a permanent fixture. Our fall Caper was a little bit iffy and our chair Sam Hirabayashi a bit hesitant. But what a show our Northern Calif. Bash was.
Sam really put on a major production. Thanks Sam and all your elves, who contributed. Eddie Morioka as co-chair, and the Hirabayashi bros., Dan and Ted provided the heavy work and leg work. Expect you to bid again for the fall Caper, Sam. Final closing event of 2003, Shogun Mayeda, aided and abbeted by Floyd Mori for the Vegas crapshoot. Had six couples from Salt Lake City join us to add to the merriment and contribution to the casinos. Shogun is looking at a new format for 2004. Great to see Sam Kotoku back into the swing of things.
Shortly Taisho will have all details per golf courses, restaurants and activities. Hang in there. Its on to 2004.