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Web exclusive: The Keller/Cloney Japan Diaries, Part 3

Local pitchers embark on a baseball journey in Japan

Posted: June 18, 2011 10:14 p.m.
Updated: June 18, 2011 10:14 p.m.
West Ranch pitcher and senior-to-be J.C. Cloney. West Ranch pitcher and senior-to-be J.C. Cloney.
West Ranch pitcher and senior-to-be J.C. Cloney.
West Ranch graduate and pitcher Ryan Keller. West Ranch graduate and pitcher Ryan Keller.
West Ranch graduate and pitcher Ryan Keller.

Newly graduated West Ranch High pitcher Ryan Keller and West Ranch pitcher and senior-to-be J.C. Cloney are about to embark on quite an adventure.

The teenagers will be pitching in Japan as part of the 2011 USA-Japan Friendship Series, June 19-23, in Tokyo and Osaka.

Only 18 players were chosen for the series.

Over the next week, Keller and Cloney will send us a diary that will run exclusively on
They will touch on various topics from both on and off the field.

Some of the players representing the U.S. were selected based off of playing at the Major League Baseball Urban Youth Academy in Compton.

All are considered some of the best players in the country.

The boys take off for Japan early Thursday morning.

The following is Keller's second diary entry.

He keeps it short and sweet.

June 17
Day 1 of our arrival to Tokyo Japan.

We spent last night sitting on the airplane crossing the Pacific Ocean. On the plane we tried to sleep, we watched movies and ate. We were served two meals on the 12-hour flight so when we arrived in Tokyo at 4:30 a.m., now Friday morning, after leaving the airport and going to the hotel, we ate again.

After having a Japanese breakfast at the hotel - rice, salmon, soybeans (that had an awful smell) and other Japanese food - we had our first practice. We met with a representative from Mizuno who presented each player with a bag as a token of good will for visiting their country. We drove for two hours to a high school that would be our host for the next two days. They have a wonderful indoor facility that they allowed us to use since it was raining.

We had our first practice while the Japanese high school team, who asked if they could watch our practice to see how we did things, observed. While practicing for two hours, the Japanese team stood quietly and watched everything we did, but when there was work to do, such as picking up baseballs, they were the first to jump in and help. During the time we spent at the school, we all found ways to speak with the Japanese players even if we didn't speak the same words.

The players were very friendly, offering us drinks and apologizing because they were so small in stature. This is the No. 1 high school baseball team in all of Tokyo, and they felt they needed to apologize to us for being smaller than our team. We asked them what they thought of our team, and one of the pitchers said big and very strong. He told us in his best English, "I throw junk."

After practice, we have a small ceremony and met the local newspaper representative who will be following our games while in Japan. After dinner and a day that seemed to go on forever, we had curfew to prepare to the next day.

Before curfew, JC and a few of our teammates went to an aquarium by our hotel, watched a dolphin show and saw some amazing fish. We took lots of pictures. Unfortunately, my dad fried the flip camera he bought me prior to leaving, so I don't have some video.




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