Baseball unites two cultures marred by disaster

Elected officials, dignitaries and children gathered on the steps of Borough Hall July 24 as Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams announced the first-ever “Brooklyn-Japan Youth Baseball Exchange.”The event was organized by the borough president as part of his plan to fight youth obesity through sports, while expanding cultural diversity by bridging the common experiences of both communities’ love of baseball and their perseverance in the light of the 2011 tsunami and Superstorm Sandy. We are honored to be among the first supporters of this youth baseball program that features the youth survivors of Japan’s tsunami and Brooklyn’s Hurricane Sandy,” said Jun Ishihara, cultural attaché for the General Consul of Japan.Japanese baseball hall of famer Kenichi Yazawa co- founded this exchange program, so Japanese youth and their families could explore Brooklyn and interact with other youths just like them. The program concluded with a baseball game at MCU Park, between the “Tsunami Kids” of Japan and Brooklyn’s Hurricane Sandy Kids” on Friday July 25.The youngsters from Japan talked about not only their experiences from the tsunami, but also from the fallout of the Hiroshima nuclear facility which displaced even more Japanese families.“I have seen baseball change people’s lives for the better as a player, a TV broadcaster and as an organizer of youth leagues,” said Yazawa.His sentiments were shared by Brooklyn Cyclones Assistant General Manager Gary Perrone who said, “ Here you have two groups of kids who survived disasters in their respective countries. Baseball helped them heal.”The focus on baseball is also an attempt to increase awareness of childhood obesityand push more young people to engage in physical activities. The sport can be enjoyed by people of all ages, and pushes people to reach their potential no matter what comes their way. “It doesn’t matter what part of the globe you are from, baseball is the world’s great cultural bridge,” said Adams.

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