May 30, 2012
By JEFF MOSIER
The Dallas Morning News
ARLINGTON — The Texas Rangers draw big television ratings in Japan, thanks to pitcher Yu Darvish.
This summer, a Japanese youth team from Ishinomaki — an area devastated by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami — will get a close look at the Rangers. The team will fly to the U.S., attend a Rangers game and tour the field and dugout at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington as part of the 2012 Japan-America Grassroots Summit. The international cultural exchange event alternates each year between the two countries and is being held in North Texas for the first time.
Tom Schieffer, a former Rangers president and former U.S. ambassador to Japan, said the team’s participation is a natural fit.
“There’s no place on Earth that baseball is loved more than in Japan,” he said.
The team’s trip is funded by the Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation, Darvish and gloops, a Japanese mobile gaming company.
William Tsutsui, a Southern Methodist University professor and official with the U.S.-Japan Council, said the youth baseball team’s trip is part of the Tomodachi Initiative, which seeks to foster friendship and a global mind-set. The program takes the name of the Japanese word for friend and is also the name of the joint U.S.-Japan humanitarian relief effort following the earthquake and tsunami.
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