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Japanese Kids Play Ball With Cal Ripken Jr.

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Mike Schuh joined WJZ Eyewitness News as a general assignment reporter...
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1057topper Japanese Kids Play Ball With Cal Ripken Jr.

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ABERDEEN, Md. (WJZ)– In March, more than 20,000 people were killed by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

Now, as Mike Schuh reports, some Japanese children who lost everything were in Harford County Wednesday working out with a Hall of Fame baseball player.

Imagine this happened to your town. Thousands dead, most of what you know scraped clean. Now, think about being a teenager and this is where your home stood.

You’d probably want to, for a time, forget about your troubles, just be a kid again.

That happened Wednesday, even if the guy throwing you batting practice was Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr.

A special clinic for 16 Japanese students, 11 displaced by the tsunami, was held at Ripken Baseball Stadium in Aberdeen. It is such a big deal that the Japanese ambassador to the United States showed up to say thank you.

“This is really extraordinary, and a great day for them, and I think they will never forget about it,” said Ichiro Fujisaki, the Japanese ambassador.

This is a special day for the Andersons from Richmond, Va. Their daughter Taylor, then 24, taught English in Japan. The tsunami killed her as she tried to get to the airport to leave Japan.

Taylor taught five students who were in Aberdeen Wednesday.

“It makes us feel good,” Taylor Anderson’s mother, Jean Anderson, said. “They say the Americans are warm and happy people, and I’m glad that they feel that about us.”

An important event to be seen in Japan. Important too, even for a superstar.

“My hope is that we connect, distract, put a smile on their faces, escape for a moment and maybe sport and baseball will have some healing properties,” Ripken said.

Healing too, for a grieving couple from Virginia.

“So we feel that connection,” said Andy Anderson, Taylor Anderson’s father. “She taught them and we’re learning from them about Taylor, and for that I’m very grateful.”

From here, these students leave to go see the Little League World Series. They leave for Japan on Aug. 23.

Ripken will travel to Japan this fall and meet with the same children as the U.S. sports ambassador.

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