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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, October 25, 2002

Youth baseball players chosen for Ehime goodwill tournament

By Curtis Lum
Advertiser Staff Writer

Players from an O'ahu youth baseball league have been named to two teams that will participate in a goodwill tournament next month in Ehime Prefecture in Japan.

The 13-member teams were picked from teams in O'ahu Babe Ruth and O'ahu Cal Ripken Baseball League, which is an affiliate of the Babe Ruth league. The teams are in the 11-12 and 13-15 age divisions.

Coaches in the league submitted names of players to be considered for the teams and the final decision was made by a Babe Ruth league committee.

"They were selected not just for skills, but for character because in many ways it's a goodwill event," said Seiji Naya, director of the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism. Naya has been working on the arrangements for the tournament with the officials in Ehime Prefecture.

The players will participate in a Thanksgiving weekend tournament in Ehime, home to the Uwajima Fisheries High School. On Feb. 9, 2001, nine Uwajima students and teachers were killed when their training vessel was rammed by the submarine USS Greeneville nine miles south of Diamond Head.

The remains of all but one of the dead were recovered last November and returned to their families.

This past summer, a Ehime Prefecture assemblyman, Junnosuke Kainou, invited two Hawai'i youth baseball teams to play in a goodwill exchange tournament. The games are intended to foster relations between Ehime and Hawai'i.

"Instead of getting mad at us for what happened, they want to create better relations," Naya said. "And the best way is through kids. They are the real ambassadors."

Gerald Oda and Keith Oda were named to coach the younger team, while Pat Kawasaki and Clifford Chillingsworth will head the older team.

Naya said the Ehime-Hawai'i Goodwill Baseball Association of Japan will pick up the cost of flying and housing the teams, but he said the two teams will still need to raise about $10,000 for uniforms and jackets. Naya said he has asked the Hawai'i Tourism Authority for help.

The O'ahu teams will gather at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow at the Ehime Maru Memorial at Waterfront Park to pay tribute to those who died in the accident.

Reach Curtis Lum at culum@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8025.