Ripken trains kids in quake-hit areas
By ROB SMAAL / Staff Writer (The Asahi Shimbun)

Cal Ripken Jr. says he has gotten a lot out of baseball over his 51 years, and ever since retiring from the game he loves in 2001, he has been trying to give back.
His latest mission has him in Japan this month, where the 19-time Major League Baseball All-Star and reigning "iron man" of the sport is conducting clinics for Japanese youth.
"They love their baseball (in Japan) equally, if not more, than we do in the United States," Ripken said at a Nov. 9 news conference at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo. "I'm particularly happy to be able to spread a message of goodwill through the kids by helping to teach baseball."
Ripken, a Hall of Fame shortstop who played in a record 2,632 consecutive games over his 21-year MLB career”•all with the Baltimore Orioles”•is also a Public Diplomacy Envoy for the U.S. State Department. He is here as part of the "Tomodachi" initiative, a public-private partnership led by the governments of the U.S. and Japan and supported by the U.S.-Japan Council and various corporations and organizations on both sides of the Pacific.
While in Japan, Ripken and his crew”•which includes Brady Anderson, a former teammate with the Orioles, and Sachio Kinugasa, Japanese baseball's own iron man who played in 2,215 straight games for the Hiroshima Carp”•have been conducting clinics in Tokyo, Kyoto and tsunami-hit Ofunato in Iwate Prefecture, among other locations.
On Nov. 10 in Ofunato, about 70 junior high school players attended the clinic. Ripken encouraged them to keep their hopes and dreams alive and, after a moment of silence, he taught them the finer points of fielding and batting for about two hours.
"We really enjoyed learning," said Arata Chida, a second-year student from Ryori Junior High School.

(Read full story at The Asahi Shimbun website)