'Iron men' prove their mettle with Tohoku visit

December 14, 2011 (The Asahi Shimbun)

Perseverance is a trait common to baseball’s two reigning “iron men,” and that quality is something they hoped to inspire in the victims of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami when they recently visited the disaster-affected area and held baseball clinics for kids.
American Cal Ripken Jr. and Japan’s Sachio Kinugasa, holders of the records for most consecutive games played in Major League Baseball (2,632) and Nippon Professional Baseball (2,215), respectively, have often been linked because of their remarkable achievements on the baseball diamond. The two former ballplayers have had to overcome numerous challenges to get their names in the record books.
We asked the two baseball legends to share their thoughts on their visit to the areas now recovering and rebuilding from the deadly tsunami, which left about 20,000 people dead or missing in the Tohoku region.
Here are some excerpts from the discussion.
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Sachio Kinugasa: Thanks to your invitation (addressing Ripken), I was able to visit the disaster areas in Tohoku for the first time. We went from Kesennuma in Miyagi Prefecture to Rikuzentakata and Ofunato cities in Iwate Prefecture. I have a strong impression of your shocked face the second we got to the disaster areas.
Cal Ripken Jr.: Well, you know, I struggled witnessing it firsthand, and I think sometimes I felt like I wanted to go back on the bus to a safe area only because, you know, it bothers you, the reality. It’s hard to fathom until you’re standing in the area witnessing how big it was.

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