This past weekend the Temecula Youth Baseball league (TYB) extended its bi-annual tradition of having players from the league participate in some fun international youth baseball games against visiting players from Japan. The event has been taking place for the past four years, once in the spring and again in the summer, just before school starts.
“Teaming up with the Baseball leagues in the area, as well as some of the local instructors and high school coaches gives these visiting players from Japan an opportunity to mix in their favorite pastime with some schooling,” said Chris Cullen, who helps run the California School of English (CSOE) in Temecula which teaches English as a second language.
The players that made the trip also got to enjoy many other fun activities during their stay like visiting their favorite amusement parks, as well as taking in a Major League Baseball game. Many of the host families agree that the players are always a little more excited to play, getting to share their dreams of playing in the big leagues with the American kids.
“For some of these players, it is the first time they have ever been to California, and quite possibly even the United States, so to continue to bring something this special to them has given our program such an added benefit,” added Cullen.
The main goal of the CSOE is to bring students from abroad to the area to enhance their English speaking skills and this time around the CSOE was able to bring 27 student athletes to join in on the fun, all of them ranging in age from 11 to almost 16-years-old.
“One of my favorite things during this time of year is teaming up with the California School of English and hosting these games. We go all out to bring something new to the table every time and it has become a fun and exciting way for the kids in our league to make new friends, learn about another culture, and enjoy a common love for baseball,” TYB President JP Raineri said.
The games started off with a special introduction message from City Of Temecula Community Services Commissioner, Eric Willis, who also led the teams on the field for the playing of each countries national anthem as the games got underway.
“I look forward to seeing these players share in something they love and was honored to be a part of the event again this year. I have done everything from watching my son play in these games, to coaching, I even got to umpire last year and now with my new position with the city, I expect to be a part of this event for even more years to come. It’s funny too, sometimes you don’t even notice the communication barrier, they always seem to find a way to speak the same language of baseball when it’s all said and done,” Willis said.
After the games were over, the payers also got to trade jerseys and game balls and TYB even had some special parting gifts for the players from Japan – their very own personalized hat to take back home with them, plus everyone got to enjoy the fine old tradition of hot dogs, nachos and chili.
“The players really wanted to play in a traditional East vs. West type of game and they were glad to see it was played in a competitive atmosphere, but they also had fun and are so lucky and thankful to walk away from an experience like this with new friends,” said Yutaka Hirabayashi, interpreter for the CSOE and group leader for the visiting Japanese players.
To find out more information about the International games or to get involved with the Temecula Youth Baseball league, visit www.temeculapony.com.