LIHU’E – In baseball, a high fastball looks the same in any language.
and other common ground was shared Saturday by the Kaua’i Cardinals and the
Hoya Dodgers in a matchup of Pony League teams of boys 13 to 15 years
The language barrier was nearly meaningless as the Dodgers, here from
Japan for a three-day visit, engaged the hometown Cardinals in a doubleheader
that meant nothing in the scorebooks, but gave both sides an understanding of
their different cultures.
The event was arranged by Larry Moises, director
of Hawaii’s Pony League organization, and his counterparts in Japan. The goal
was “a friendship exchange,” said Ken Schiba, who works for the Japan Travel
Bureau and doubled as an interpreter during the games.
Coach Jay Gativan
obliged by reuniting his Cardinals, who earlier had finished their season with
a second-place finish in the local Pony League.
“We’re out here to have
some fun,” he said as the two teams rested in their respective dugouts after
the first game, won by the Dodgers 8-4. The visitors won the second contest
Hoya, described by coach Yoshiaki Matsumuto as middle-of-the-pack in
its 27-team Tokyo metro league, nevertheless qualified for Japan’s national
tournament. The Dodgers lost in the early rounds.
They impressed the
“They hit the ball, and they’re very disciplined hitters. They
don’t swing at high pitches,” Gativan noted. “And they’re solid on
Kaua’i infielder Kyle Neuberger verified the defensive ability of
Hoya shortstop Ryo Shimizu, who made a diving stop to get Neuberger out in the
“I was robbed. It was a good play, though,” Neuberger said with
He agreed with Gativan’s assessment of the Japanese discipline at
the plate, which showed in the first inning of the second game. After their
first two batters grounded out, the Dodgers strung four consecutive hits which
helped produce a 5-0 lead.
Some of the visitors knew a few words of
English, including hello and thank you. But generally, they just went out and
played the same way as their American hosts.
“They play hard but not dirty.
They showed good sportsmanship,” Gativan said of the Dodgers.
added that the Japanese play “a little different style,” but “I don’t know if
they’re better than teams here.”
With less than 20 spectators watching, the
teams played mostly for themselves.