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Well our journey to Japan is just about over and I wanted to thank all of you who have followed along through my blog, photos and videos.  We had fun chronicling the trip and I hope that you enjoyed seeing what we were up to.

In many ways we are all happy to be heading home, but in many ways we are sad to go.  The Japanese people are very special.  The strength and honor that they have demonstrated as they work through the tragedy of March 11 is remarkable.  They are a very friendly people who love their baseball just like us.

When we arrived I said that our goal was simply to bring a smile to the faces of the children of Japan and connect with them through baseball.  I think we achieved that and I hope to come back again soon.

I also very much enjoyed spending time with my old friend Sachio Kinugasa, the Iron Man of Japan.  He is a wonderful man and he loves working with the kids as well.  We both promised each other that it won’t be so long between visits this time.

I want to thank our friends at the State Department, the Embassy and Major League Baseball for their help and support and I want to thank my team for their tireless effort in the months leading up to the trip and while we were here.

I always like to say that you can do some good stuff on your own but you can do so much more with good partners.  Thanks to Rawlings and Under Armour we were able to leave behind equipment and merchandise for the kids, coaches and schools that will help them get back to playing the game that they love.

I don’t know where our next journey will take us but I look forward to it and I look forward to keeping everyone up to date.  Thanks again.  Sayonara.

Today we put on our final youth clinic of this incredible trip and it was one of my favorite days because it took place in Kiyoto, the hometown of my friend, Sachio Kinugasa, the Japanese “Iron Man”.

I first met Sachio in 1996.  He held the world record for consecutive games played and about a year after I passed Lou Gehrig’s record, I passed Mr. Kinugasa’a mark. I did it in Kansas City against the Royals and he came over from Japan and attended the game.  It was wonderful that he was there and after that game we shared stories and formed a bond.

He has been with us this entire trip and I have very much enjoyed getting to know him better and discussing our streaks and our motivation for being there, ready to play for our team for all of those games in a row.

Today was his day and he led the clinic, helped me hand out Under Armour gift bags to the kids, took me on a tour of the Kiyoto Baseball Hall of Fame where he is immortalized and then he and I sat down for a one on one interview with the Asahi Shimbun, one of the largest and most prestigious newspapers in the world.

In addition, the subject of women playing baseball was a focus today.  We had a couple of little girls take part in the clinic and I threw out the first pitch at the start of a Japanese Girls Professional League game.  It was a lot of fun and the girls were terrific ballplayers.  I told the local press that I very much liked the idea of girls competing and playing the game just like the boys and they should play as long as they enjoy it and for as long as they can compete.

I will be sorry to see the trip come to an end in a couple of days but I am happy with the way things went and the fact that we were able o meet so many kids and spread the word about the remarkable and strong Japanese people.

Thanks again for following along.  We will have one more blog before we come back home.

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After passing through the devastation caused by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan on March 11 we didn’t know what to expect when we reached the local school and the young kids who lost so much.

What we found was an amazing spirit that seems to be in so many of the Japanese people.  Despite the hardships they have endured, these kids wanted to play a little baseball and have some fun… and we gave it to them.  Our team of Brady Anderson, Japanese Iron Man Sachio Kinugasa and Ripken Baseball’s Tim Gebhart found ourselves lifted by the kids and having a terrific time despite temperatures that dropped into the low 40s.

We put on a clinic for about two hours and had a blast.  In addition, thanks to our friends at Under Armour, Rawlings and MLB we left the school and teams with plenty of new baseball equipment and each kid received a bag of Under Armour and Rawlings goodies.

Our time in Japan is starting to wind down.  We have a clinic for boys and girls on Saturday in Takarazuka City before departing for the beautiful city of Kyoto.  On Sunday we have a morning clinic at for kids in Kyoto and then I get to toss the ceremonial first pitch at a game for the All Japan Girls Baseball Tournament.  Before returning to Tokyo, we visit the Kyoto Baseball Hall of Fame with Mr. Kinugasa.  This is his hometown and I am excited to be at his home with him.

Monday we have a day off in Tokyo that we are all looking forward to.  On Tuesday we have a few things to wrap up with the Embassy and some interview before heading home.

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Today we left Tokyo and traveled for 7 hours to Ofunato, one of the areas most devastated by the March 11 earthquake and ensuing tsunami that left much of the eastern shore of Japan destroyed.

Despite being inundated by media coverage of the earthquake in the United States and being prepped by members of the US State Department upon my arrival, nothing quite prepared us for the actual first- hand account of this disaster.  It seemed like I was always the first one back on the bus as we stopped a few times to get out and review the damage. Maybe that was a defensive mechanism to protect myself a little from all we were seeing.

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As hard as it is to imagine what the Japanese people endured, I tend to look at the positive side…the strength and resilience of the Japanese people and how the towns are being rebuilt eight months later.

Soon we will be conducting clinics for kids who lost so much and it will be even more important for us to see that they have fun, smile and laugh.  I hope that our being there gives them a little break from the realities of the day and lets them know that people from around the world care about them and the Japanese people overall.

I guess the next few days are really why we are here and I am looking forward to it.  We will see some of the kids who came to the United States earlier this year and met us at our baseball complex in Aberdeen, MD.

We will also visit the hometown of the great Japanese player, Sachio Kinugasa, this weekend.  Sachio has been working with us on this tour and it is great seeing him again.  We got to know each other a little back in 1996 when I broke his world record of consecutive games played.  I know this trip means a great deal to him personally and as a native of Japan.

Thanks for reading and for following our trip.  It has been a wonderful visit so far and I have a feeling it will get even better over the next few days.

BACK ON THE FIELD

We just wrapped up a busy first day in Japan.  This morning I took part in a press conference at the Embassy with Brady, Sachio Kinugasa, Japan’s “iron man” and Jim Small of MLB Asia. We talked to the media about our visit and what we hoped to achieve.

Following the press conference we headed out to work with kids on a couple of clinics.  The first was an extremely talented group of girls who really knew how to play and clearly loved the game.  After lunch we traveled to another school and worked with a group of boys.  Like the girls, they knew how to play and had great enthusiasm. 

Tomorrow morning we leave Tokyo for a few days and head to the parts of the country that were hit the hardest by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.  We are all sure this will be an emotional day but one that we are looking forward to.  We will try to bring a little smile to the face of those kids…also, our partners at Under Armour, Rawlings and MLB have donated significant amounts of equipment and merchandise that will be left for each school as well as individual baseball gifts that might have a positive impact on these kids.

Thanks again for reading and listening … the time change is really wearing us down so I will sign off now and fill you all in on our travels tomorrow.

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