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Web exclusive: The Keller/Cloney Japan Diaries, Part 7

Posted: June 21, 2011 4:09 p.m.
Updated: June 21, 2011 4:09 p.m.

Ryan Keller, front left, and J.C. Cloney, far right, pose with teammates and kids at a Buddhist Temple outside of Osaka, Japan.

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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.

Keller and Cloney are sending 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 fifth diary entry.


June 22
Today we didn’t have a game, so we traveled to a Buddhist Temple about an hour away from our hotel in Osaka, Japan. When we first arrived, the first thing you see is hundreds of deer that surround the outside of the temple on the grounds. Deer are said to be sent by the gods. The deer walk right up to you and eat crackers right out of your hands.

We had the privilege of having a special tour by one of the monks. He showed us around the temple, which was built in the year 749 and is the largest all-wood structure in the world. It was several hundred feet high and at least the same in width. The monk told us the temple had burned twice, and each time had been rebuilt and is currently on 2/3 the size of the original structure.

While at the temple, we meet several school children of all ages. We took photos with some kindergarten kids. We had some middle school kids sing us their school songs and we talked and took photographs with all of them.

After the time at the temple, we then had a dinner reception to attend with the vice president of the Japanese High School Baseball Federation and several newspaper leaders from the Osaka area. We went to a restaurant that required us to take our shoes off and sit on the floor, and then they gave us the meats, fish and vegetables and we had to cook our own food right at the table. We spent several hours at the restaurant eating and laughing with our teammates and having a good time. We then walked back through Osaka about 15 blocks to our hotel. You notice how clean the streets are and how the people seem so polite.

Tomorrow, we play our third game against one of the high school teams in Osaka and I am looking forward to getting back on the baseball diamond.

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