Thursday, July 20, 2017

Western Pennsylvania welcomes Japanese baseball players to the Freeport International Baseball Invitational.

by Jack Fordyce of the Tribune-Review.

With only four players from overseas, this year's Freeport International Baseball Invitational isn't very international this year. Nevertheless the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review profiles today the two Japanese collegiate athletes who make up half of the international contingent:
Outside of the noisy bus, Ito is enjoying his trip, taking in new experiences big and small surrounding him.

Even the insects.

“It is the first time I've ever seen lightning bugs,” Ito said. “They are pretty cool to see.”

Yamahara, who goes by the nickname “Yoshi,” is playing in the FIBI for the second consecutive year.

He first met Ito a year and a half ago while playing baseball at International Christian University in Tokyo. Yamahara, 20, grew up in Kagawa Prefecture, which is a few hours south of Tokyo, where he lives while in college.

He compared Kagawa Prefecture to a rural area like Freeport.

Ito, 20, has lived in Tokyo his entire life.

The pair arrived a week early to spend time with their host family, the McKinigan's, and take in activities before the FIBI started. They went to Pittsburgh Zoo and Sky Zone Trampoline Park in Monroeville, where they played dodgeball on trampolines.

In Yamahara's last visit to Freeport, one thing that stood out to him was the food, which is much different than food in Japan.

“One thing I was surprised about in the United States was that American people eat a lot of hamburgers, hot dogs and nachos,” Yamahara said. “In Japan, the main food is rice.”
Also in the Trib is an interview with Yamahara and a story on the host families housing this year's delegation.