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Web exclusive: The Keller/Cloney Japan Diaries, Part 5

Local pitchers embark on a baseball journey in Japan

Posted: June 19, 2011 4:00 p.m.
Updated: June 19, 2011 4:00 p.m.

Ryan Keller and J.C. Cloney with Japanese students at a formal dinner sponsored by the Japanese High School Federation

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Newly graduated West Ranch High pitcher Ryan Keller and West Ranch pitcher and senior-to-be J.C. Cloney are embarking on quite an adventure.

The teenagers are pitching in Japan as part of the 2011 USA-Japan Friendship Series from Sunday until Wednesday, in Tokyo and Osaka.

Only 18 players were chosen for the series.

Over the next week, Keller and Cloney will send us a diary that will run exclusively on the-signal.com. They will touch on various topics from both on and off the field.

Some of the players representing the U.S. were selected based off of playing at the Major League Baseball Urban Youth Academy in Compton.

All are considered some of the best players in the country.

The following is Keller’s fourth diary entry.


June 19
Today we woke up in Japan on Father’s Day, and both J.C. and I were lucky enough that both of our fathers were on the trip with us so we could tell them “happy Father’s Day” in person.

Today is the first day of baseball. We have a doubleheader with a team of all-stars from the Tokyo area that will be played a Meja University. As we drove through the city of Tokyo, we noticed how close the building are and right up against the roads. Most of the building in the downtown area are very tall but look small from the outside. 

Before the games could begin, they had a very formal ceremony where all of the players and coaches and other dignitaries were introduced. As the players were standing on the field and their name was called, they would bow to the other team, to the audience and to the coach. After all of the introductions, the players then lined up again on the field and exchanged gifts with each other. They are very serious about the ceremony of the game and tradition.

Now it was time to play. I had the honor of starting the first game and threw two innings but we lost that game. It was very exciting to play in the game that had a standing room-only crowd that filled the stands of about 1,000 seats and then had people standing the entire way around the fence. The crowd was very vocal and appreciated the plays being made on the field.

In the second game, J.C. started. Again, we did not win, but he threw well and struck out three batters in two innings. But what was obvious to me was the Japanese team came to swing the bat and didn’t miss the chance to swing at a fastball.

After the game, we had people coming up to us wanting our autographs and taking pictures with us. It was very exciting. We then returned to the hotel to prepare for a formal dinner being put on by the Japanese High School Federation. We didn’t know what to expect but when we arrived many of the planners from the Japan team were also there and we got to sit with them for the dinner. Again, we were laughing and joking without knowing each other’s language. Somehow we were able to know what the other person was trying to say. We then returned to our hotel to prepare to travel to Osaka on the bullet train tomorrow for our next two games.

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