Reporting Joel Thomas
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ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) – Mayor Robert Cluck had a hard time verbally communicating with his young Japanese guests Thursday at Arlington City Hall.
“I’m not going to speak correctly some of the words I have to read,” he told the fourteen teenage boys who stood attentively in two, neat rows waiting for the mayor to read a proclamation honoring their visit.
But the verbal communication did not matter. There is an international language that brought the boys here; the language of baseball.
The Japanese little league team is from Ishinomaki. Their hometown was destroyed by last year’s earthquake and tsunami. They lost their homes, their playing fields, and their friend and teammate, 12-year old Hidekazu Suzuki.
But there was someone in the U.S. who wanted to help — Yu Darvish. The Texas Rangers flew the team to Arlington and local families are housing the boys. They were treated like VIP’s during Darvish’s last game, getting television time, meeting the players including another favorite from Japan Koji Uehara and one of the boys threw out the first pitch.
“It was so exciting to throw from the same mound as Yu Darvish,” Kaito Suganomata, the 15-year old pitcher who tossed out the first ball.
The game and the big-league surroundings are internationally known symbols, common to any young boy who grew up playing or as a fan of baseball.
And for the City of Arlington and the Rangers it Is a gesture as simple as a handshake — a way to say we’re half a world away, but we care.
“We all speak the same language, we don’t quite understand but we know what we’re saying to each other,” Mayor Cluck said. “When I asked a Yu Darvish question they were quick on it. They understood it.
The team suffered together in the tsunami and is healing together. And now the little league team knows they have the support of a big league team — and a city — half a world away.
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