Former Yankee players inspire American and Japanese youth during camp
CAMP ZAMA, Japan (March 25, 2015) -- "This was a once in a lifetime experience," said Maya Carter, a 6th-grader from the Arnn Elementary School, when describing the Tomodachi Charity Baseball Camp held March 21at the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan.
The theme of the event, "Tomodachi" literally means "friend" in Japanese. The event was held to continuously support the Tomodachi in the Tohoku region affected by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake.
Derek Jeter and Hideki Matsui, both retired Yankee professional baseball players, were in attendance. Jeter said Matsui asked him to be a part of the event.
"Not only to help out a friend, but to help out the kids, I am all for it," explained Jeter during a press conference held after the event's conclusion.
"Jeter was a big help," Matsui said.
The two former teammates came together once again to make this event possible and to inspire young Japanese and American baseball fans, said Matsui.
The one day camp included a baseball clinic, a charity game, a home run derby and much more throughout the day.
Maya participated in the baseball clinic portion of the camp along with seven other children from Arnn and hundreds of Japanese children between 4th and 6th grade.
The children gathered around Matsui and Jeter during the baseball clinic to see the former players batting demonstrations up-close and personal.
Maya said the most enjoyable moment for her was "watching professional baseball players show us how to do many new things."
The charity baseball game was held between Team Matsui and Team Jeter in a three inning contest. Matsui led a team that consisted of youth from the Tohoku region, while Jeter led a team that consisted of American youth stationed in Japan, to include four students for Zama American High School.
Keiyl Sasano, an 11th-grader from ZAHS, pitched, batted and played as second base on Team Jeter.
Sasano said his favorite moment during the game was striking a kid out.
Although Matsui's team won the game 2-0, "It was definitely a life experience," said Sasano after the game.
"My favorite part was meeting Derek Jeter," said Jowi Deguzman, an 11th-grader from ZAHS.
Shortly after the home run derby portion of the camp was concluded between the two teams, Matsui's team winning 8-6, the 2009 World Series Most Valuable player, Matsui announced that he was going to step in to the batter's box.
After his third swing, a slugger, Matsui delivered a home run into the right field, right into a boy's glove in the stands. The Tokyo Dome rocked as baseball fans cheered!
Matsui was congratulated by Jeter at home plate, a reminder old times for the fans.
"I love baseball," concluded Deguzman.