Back to the Past : The Wa Sung Athletic Club

By Howard Ah-Tye (August, 1989)

Before 1923, a small group of young Chinese men congregated at Allie Wong's home on 6th Street in Oakland Chinatown. Many of them were interested in baseball. Therefore, they played at the Auditorium Field (later known as Davis Field) where Laney College is now located. The Wa Sung Baseball Team was organized in 1923. They later changed their name to the Wa Sung Athletic Club to accommodate others who wish to join but did not participate as ball players. Al Huey (part Chinese and Hawaiian) was the coach. Gay Wye and Lock Kai Kee were the assistant coaches. The ball players wore colorful uniforms and played games in various towns - Stockton, Fresno, Mill Valley, San Jose, Alameda, Petaluma, Lodi, San Francisco, and even in Yonkers. Teams they played included the California Blues, California Grays, Central Bank, J.J. Krieg, Mission Red, and Alameda Eagles.

The baseball team included many good players, notably Al Bowen who tried out and played briefly for the Oakland Oaks. The team was very colorful and exciting. They had no problems in scheduling games and played in several leagues. They were in great demand and were considered semi-professionals. Money received for their efforts were usually contributions in a hat passed around. They used the money to buy uniforms and other incidentals. The Athletic Club had their parties and socials too. They held hot dog sales and spaghetti feeds and put on variety shows at the old Danish Hall. At one time, they were so popular that many Chinese in the community would follow them as they barnstormed from town to town.

The baseball players who wore the Wa Sung uniform were: Al Bowen, George Bowen, Henry Bowen, Ben Chan, George Chan, Art Chinn, Key Chinn, Earnest Chinn, Robert Chow, Frank Dun, Binge Eng, Hector Eng, Harry Hinge, Andrew Oho, Newell Kai Eke, Joe Lee, Lester Lee, Walton Lee, Ralph Lew, Wing Lew, Dan Lewis, Henry Lum, Al Wong, Allie Wong, Phillip Wong, Ed Yee and Wing Yick.The Athletic Club was disbanded in 1938. Then in July of 1952, they regrouped to organize a new community service club, the Wa Sung Service Club.

Wa Sung Baseball Team in 1926 Membership card issued to Allie Wong 1933

The Wa Sung Baseball Team in Spring 1931 after a game with the Univ. of California Varsity
Left to Right, Front Row: Key Chinn SS and 2B; Ed Hing OF; Sung Wong 2B;
George Bowen C and 3B; Frank Dunn OF
Middle Row: Henrye Bowen 1B and P; Joe Lee 1F; Ed Bowen Scorekeeper; Albert Bowen P;
Al Wong OF; Hector Eng C
Back Row: Al Hue headcoach and P; Bob Chow OF; Lock Kai Kee 3B coach; Worley Wong;
Gay Wye 1B coach; Arthur Chinn OF